Constraints on the deformation of the vibrissa within the follicle

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Y. LuoMitra J.Z. Hartmann


Nearly all mammals have a vibrissal system specialized for tactile sensation, composed of whiskers growing from sensor-rich follicles in the skin. Because a whisker has no sensors along its length, an open question is how mechanoreceptors in the follicle transduce sensory signals. These mechanoreceptors are activated by whisker deflection, so it is essential to understand how the whisker deforms within the follicle and so how it may activate different populations of mechanoreceptors in different ways. During active whisking behaviors, muscle contractions and increases in blood pressure in the ring sinus will likely affect the whisker deformation profile. Directly recording from mechanoreceptors under these conditions is difficult due to their small size, location within intricate and delicate membranes, and movement during sensation. Using data from a previous experimental study on whisker deflection, and from histological analysis of follicle tissue, we develop a mechanical model of the follicle sinus complex. With this model we first simulate passive whisker contact, replicating previous results of ex vivo experiments on deformation of a whisker within the follicle. We then simulate whisker deformation within the follicle dur...Continue Reading

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