Modality maps within primate somatosensory cortex

Robert M. Friedman, Li Min Chen, Anna Wang Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The sensations of pressure, flutter, and vibration are psychophysically distinct tactile modalities produced by frequency-specific vibrotactile stimulation of different mechanoreceptors in the skin. The information coded by the different low-threshold mechanoreceptors are carried by anatomically and electrophysiologically distinct pathways that remain separate at least up to and including the input stage of primary somatosensory cortex (SI) in primates, area 3b. Little is known about the functional organization of tactile representation beyond that stage. By using intrinsic optical imaging methods to record from area 1, the second processing stage of SI, we present evidence that pressure, flutter, and vibratory stimuli activate spatially distinct cortical domains in area 1, further strengthening the foundation for modality-specific processing streams in SI. These modality domains exhibit an organization that is unlike the discontinuous modality maps in visual area V2 but more like the continuous visual orientation maps in V1. The results demonstrate that psychophysically distinct sensory modalities can have fundamentally different modes of cortical representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12724-12729
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 24 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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