Optical imaging of intrinsic cortical activity was used to study the somatotopic map and the representation of pressure, flutter, and vibration in area 3b of the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) cortex under pentothal or isoflurane anesthesia. The representation of the fingerpads in primary somatosensory cortex was investigated by stimulating the glabrous skin of distal fingerpads (D1-D5) with Teflon probes (3-mm diam) attached through an armature to force feedback-controlled torque motors. Under pentothal anesthesia, intrinsic signal maps in area 3b obtained in response to stimulation (trapezoidal indentation) of individual fingerpads showed focal activations. These activations (ranging from 0.5 to 1.0 mm) were discrete and exhibited minimal overlap between adjacent fingerpad representations. Consistent with previously published maps, a somatotopic representation of the fingerpads was observed with an orderly medial to lateral progression from the D5 to D1 fingerpads. Under isoflurane anesthesia, general topography was still maintained, but the representation of fingerpads on adjacent fingers had higher degrees of overlap than with pentothal anesthesia. Multi- and single-unit recordings in the activation zones confirmed the somatotopic maps. To examine preferential inputs from slowly adapting type I (SA) and rapidly adapting type I (RA) and type II (PC) mechanoreceptors, we applied stimuli consisting of sinusoidal indentations that produce sensations of pressure (1 Hz), flutter (30 Hz), and vibration (200 Hz). Under pentothal anesthesia, activation patterns to these different stimuli were focal and coincided on the cortex. Under isoflurane, activation zones from pressure, flutter, and vibratory stimuli differed in size and shape and often contained multiple foci, although overall topography was maintained. Subtraction and vector maps revealed cortical areas (approximate 250-μm diam) that were preferentially activated by the sensations of pressure, flutter, and vibration. Multi- and single-unit recordings aided in the interpretation of the imaging maps. In conclusion, the cortical signals observed with intrinsic signal optical imaging delineated a somatotopic organization of area 3b and revealed different topographical cortical activation patterns for pressure, flutter, and vibratory stimuli. These patterns were dependent on anesthesia type. Possible relationships of these anesthesia effects to somatosensory cortical plasticity are discussed.
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