Calculating whiskers send precise information to the brain

As our sensory organs register objects and structures in the outside world, they are continually engaged in two-way communication with the brain. In research recently published in Nature Neuroscience, Weizmann Institute scientists found that for rats, which use their whiskers to feel out their surroundings at night, clumps of nerve endings called mechanoreceptors located at the base of each whisker act as tiny calculators. These receptors continuously compute the way the whisker’s base rotates in its socket, expressing it as a fraction of the entire projected rotation of the whisker, so that the brain is continually updated on the way that the whisker’s rotation is being followed through. Whiskers, like our eyes or fingers, must move to sense the stationary things in their environment. Prof. Ehud Ahissar and his group‚Ķ


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