Use of a Simplified Method of Optical Recording to Identify Foci of Maximal Neuron Activity in the Somatosensory Cortex of White Rats


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Abstract

Eight mongrel white male rats were studied under urethane anesthesia, and neuron activity evoked by mechanical and/or electrical stimulation of the contralateral whiskers was recorded in the primary somatosensory cortex. Recordings were made using a digital USB chamber attached to the printer port of a Pentium 200MMX computer running standard programs. Optical images were obtained in the barrel-field zone using a differential signal, i.e., the difference signal for cortex images in control and experimental animals. The results obtained here showed that subtraction of averaged sequences of frames yielded images consisting of spots reflecting the probable position of activated groups of neurons. The most effective stimulation consisted of natural low-frequency stimulation of the whiskers. The method can be used for preliminary mapping of cortical zones, as it provides for rapid and reproducible testing of the activity of neuron ensembles over large areas of the cortex.

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