Image of the Week

Sensory Maps

  • Published10 Sep 2012
  • Reviewed10 Sep 2012
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

 Robin J. Wagener, Csaba Dávid, Shanting Zhao, Carola A. Haas, and Jochen F. Staiger. The Somatosensory Cortex of reeler Mutant Mice Shows Absent Layering But Intact Formation and Behavioral Activation of Columnar Somatotopic Maps. The Journal of Neuroscience, 17 November 2010, 30(46):15700-15709.

Brush your fingers against a surface and touch receptors in your skin relay tactile information to your brain. For mice, whiskers are an important way to collect this information. Neural pathways from their whiskers to their brains help them to scout their surroundings.

The somatosensory cortex contains maps of this sensory information. The researchers who created the above image used genetic markers to “label” cells to determine how this brain structure is organized. Normally, this brain area has distinct layers. But in mice with a genetic mutation that affects the migration of neurons during brain development, the layers were jumbled, resulting in a random color pattern.