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Analysis of temporal firing patterns of primary afferent C-fibers for different sensations in mice

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Some people with amputated limbs can benefit from neural prosthetics to restore tactile sensation through electrical stimulation of the afferent nerve. The temporal spike train pattern generated in healthy subject’s nerve by various types of somatosensation could provide key information to closely mimic natural sensations using electrical stimulation. However, the temporal firing patterns of peripheral sensory fibers have not been well understood yet. To interpret somatosensory spike trains, we performed ex vivo singlefiber recordings from the saphenous nerve in isolated skin-nerve preparations from mice. Some mechanically sensitive primary afferent C-fibers could also be activated by hot, cold, and itching stimuli, and we observed stimulus-specific firing patterns. These temporal patterns of the C-fibers for chemical stimuli were analyzed using a computational model based on quadruplets of spikes, which we classified into three groups of responses, i.e., capsaicin (hot), allyl-isothiocyanate (cold), and α-methyl-serotonin (itching). Each group of responses to the chemical stimuli was different from that evoked by mechanical stimuli. Therefore, these findings indicate that nontactile somatosensation can be decoded and used as input to a computerized system. Our quadruplet approach to the temporal patterns of spike trains contributes valuable insight to the identification of temporal profiles of other biological conditions.

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Correspondence to Sung Jun Jung.

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Cho, K., Jang, J.H., Kim, SP. et al. Analysis of temporal firing patterns of primary afferent C-fibers for different sensations in mice. Int. J. Precis. Eng. Manuf. 18, 739–745 (2017).

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