Tactile Sensation Related to Activity in Primary Afferents with Special Reference to Detection Problems
An ultimate goal in the study of sensory mechanisms is to arrive at an understanding of how the brain produces useful sensations on the basis of afferent information from sense organs. An attractive approach which bridges the gap between physiology and psychology is to analyse the correlations between neuronal events and psychophysical test data. This field was first explored, with the resolution of single unit discharges, by Mountcastle and co-workers about 20 year ago when the now classical papers on correlations between psychophysical data extracted from human subjects were related to activity in first order afferents studied in monkeys (Werner & Mountcastle, 1965, 1968; Talbot et al. 1968; Mountcastle et al. 1969). One conclusion drawn from their studies on vibrotactile sensation was “that the detection capacity of the alert and attending subject appears to be set by the peripheral neuronal threshold; it is not elevated by any higher central threshold” (Mountcastle, 1975).
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