Random-Sequence Stimulation of the G1 Hair Afferent Unit

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Impulse trains were recorded from the parent axon of the cat G1 hair afferent unit. Separate random (Poisson-like) trains of mechanical stimuli were applied to two coinnervated receptive field hairs individually or concurrently. The objective was to determine whether the parent axonal impulse train elicited by dual-hair stimulation was due to a temporal combining (“mixing”; Fukami, 1980) of the impulse trains elicited in the parent axon by the same stimulation to each hair alone. Both impulse rates and patterns were assessed. During single-hair random stimulation, impulse trains differed from stimulus trains, having lower mean rates and short-interval doublets. During dual-hair random stimulation, mean impulse frequencies were on average 36% less than those predicted for mixing. There were no correlations between stimulus amplitude and departures from mixing. As a further test of the mixing hypothesis, the two single-hair-elicited impulse trains were temporally merged (i.e., superimposed to form one impulse train). Such merged impulse trains were compared with the corresponding dual-hair-elicited impulse train. Dual-hair-elicited frequencies were typically less than those of the merged trains, despite the use of an absolute-refractory-period criterion during merging. The impulse patterns elicited by dual-hair stimulation usually differed from the merged-train patterns. Temporal coupling between stimuli and impulses was either variable or absent during single-hair random stimulation; such coupling was altered during dual-hair random stimulation. In summary, this work showed that the dual-hair responses could not be predicted from the single-hair responses. Limitations of the mixing hypothesis and possible biophysical mechanisms in the axonal arborization are discussed. The results are consistent with a general hypothesis of analog processing within the arborization of the parent axon.



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