Motor cortex can modulate somatosensory processing via cortico-thalamo-cortical pathway
Lohse M., Cooper M., Sader E., Langfelder A., Kahn M., Baxter L., Bartram J., Phillips JW., Upton AL., Mann EO.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The somatosensory and motor systems are intricately linked, providing several routes for the sensorimotor interactions necessary for haptic processing. Here, we used electrical and optogenetic stimulation to study the circuits that enable primary motor cortex (M1) to exert top-down modulation of whisker-evoked responses, at the levels of brain stem, thalamus and somatosensory cortex (S1). We find that activation of M1 drives somatosensory responsive cells at all levels, and that this excitation is followed by a period of tactile suppression, which gradually increases in strength along the ascending somatosensory pathway. Using optogenetic stimulation in the layer-specific Cre driver lines, we find that activation of layer VI cortico-thalamic neurons is sufficient to drive spiking in higher order thalamus, and that this is reliably followed by excitation of S1, suggesting a cross-modal cortico-thalamo-cortical pathway. Cortico-thalamic excitation predicts the degree of subsequent tactile suppression, consistent with a strong role for thalamic circuits in the expression of inhibitory sensorimotor interactions. These results provide evidence of a role for M1 in dynamic modulation of S1, largely under cortico-thalamic control.</jats:p>