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Rossi-Pool, Roman; Zainos, Antonio; Alvarez, Manuel; Diaz-deLeon, Gabriel; Romo, Ranulfo (2021)

A CONTINUUM OF INVARIANT SENSORY AND BEHAVIORAL-CONTEXT PERCEPTUAL CODING IN SECONDARY SOMATOSENSORY CORTEX

Nat Commun 12(1):
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A crucial role of cortical networks is the conversion of sensory inputs into perception. In the cortical somatosensory network, neurons of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) show invariant sensory responses, while frontal lobe neuronal activity correlates with the animal's perceptual behavior. Here, we report that in the secondary somatosensory cortex (S2), neurons with invariant sensory responses coexist with neurons whose responses correlate with perceptual behavior. Importantly, the vast majority of the neurons fall along a continuum of combined sensory and categorical dynamics. Furthermore, during a non-demanding control task, the sensory responses remain unaltered while the sensory information exhibits an increase. However, perceptual responses and the associated categorical information decrease, implicating a task context-dependent processing mechanism. Conclusively, S2 neurons exhibit intriguing dynamics that are intermediate between those of S1 and frontal lobe. Our results contribute relevant evidence about the role that S2 plays in the conversion of touch into perception.