Differential effects of radiant and mechanically applied thermal stimuli on human C-tactile afferent firing patterns - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Neurophysiology Year : 2018

Differential effects of radiant and mechanically applied thermal stimuli on human C-tactile afferent firing patterns

Abstract

C-tactile (CT) afferents respond to gentle tactile stimulation, but only a handful of studies in humans and animals have investigated whether their firing is modified by temperature. We describe the effects of radiant thermal stimuli, and of stationary and very slowly moving mechanothermal stimuli, on CT afferent responses. We find that CT afferents are primarily mechanoreceptors, as they fired little during radiant thermal stimuli, but they exhibited different patterns of firing during combined mechano-cool stimulation compared with warming. CTs fired optimally to gentle, very slowly moving, or stationary mechanothermal stimuli delivered at neutral temperature (~32°C, normal skin temperature), but they responded with fewer spikes (median 67% decrease) and at significantly lower rates (47% decrease) during warm (~42°C) tactile stimuli. During cool tactile stimuli (~18°C), their mean instantaneous firing frequency significantly decreased by 35%, but they often fired a barrage of afterdischarge spikes at a low frequency (~5 Hz) that outlasted the mechanical stimulus. These effects were observed under a variety of stimulus conditions, including during stationary and slowly moving touch (0.1 cm/s), and we complemented these tactile approaches using a combined electrical-thermal stimulation experiment where we found a suppression of spiking during warming. Overall, CT afferents are exquisitely sensitive to tactile events, and we show that their firing is modulated with touch temperatures above and below neutral skin temperature. Warm touch consistently decreased their propensity to fire, whereas cool touch produced lower firing rates but afterdischarge spiking.
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Dates and versions

hal-02048345 , version 1 (03-10-2019)

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Rochelle Ackerley, Katarina Wiklund Fernström, Helena Backlund Wasling, Roger Watkins, Richard Johnson, et al.. Differential effects of radiant and mechanically applied thermal stimuli on human C-tactile afferent firing patterns. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2018, 120 (4), pp.1885-1892. ⟨10.1152/jn.00940.2017⟩. ⟨hal-02048345⟩
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