The Developing Mouse Whiskerpad: Pattern Formation at the Periphery of a Highly Organized Somatosensory Pathway

  • W. Ourednik
  • W. Wahli
  • H. Van der Loos
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 234)


To a recent volume of the NATO-ASI series having as subject “The Neocortex: Ontogeny and Phylogeny”, our group contributed two reports on the development and plasticity of brain maps (Van der Loos et al., 1990; Welker et al., 1990). The subject of both reports was the somatosensory whisker-to-barrel pathway of rodents. In the mouse - our experimental animal - and in a number of other rodent species, one of the major characteristics of this pathway is the pattern of vibrissal follicles -sensory organs - on the animal’s muzzle. This pattern finds, at the other end of the pathway, its central counterpart in a homeomorphic arrangement of multineuronal units, “barrels”, in a defined region of the primary somatosensory cortex (Fig. 1 and Woolsey and Van der Loos, 1970). Today it is still not known how the geometry of the pattern is generated at the periphery, respected throughout the pathway and what the developmental mechanisms are by which periphery and brain interact, resulting in the homeomorphic relationship alluded to. In line with our earlier argument that the periphery plays a major role in the creation of the pattern in the central nervous system (Van der Loos and Dörfl, 1978; Andrés and Van der Loos, 1983; Van der Loos and Welker, 1985; Van der Loos et al., 1986), the present paper describes ideas, born here and elsewhere, about the developmental rules that guide the formation of the vibrissal pattern.


Nerve Growth Factor Neural Crest Trigeminal Ganglion Pioneer Neuron Maxillary Process 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Ourednik
    • 1
  • W. Wahli
    • 2
  • H. Van der Loos
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut d’AnatomieUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institut de Biologie AnimaleUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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