Spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical sensorimotor integration in behaving mice
Tactile information is actively acquired and processed in the brain through concerted interactions between movement and sensation. Somatosensory input is often the result of self-generated movement during the active touch of objects, and conversely, sensory information is used to refine motor control. There must therefore be important interactions between sensory and motor pathways, which we chose to investigate in the mouse whisker sensorimotor system. Voltage-sensitive dye was applied to the neocortex of mice to directly image the membrane potential dynamics of sensorimotor cortex with subcolumnar spatial resolution and millisecond temporal precision. Single brief whisker deflections evoked highly distributed depolarizing cortical sensory responses, which began in the primary somatosensory barrel cortex and subsequently excited the whisker motor cortex. The spread of sensory information to motor cortex was dynamically regulated by behavior and correlated with the generation of sensory-evoked whisker movement. Sensory processing in motor cortex may therefore contribute significantly to active tactile sensory perception.