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Somatosensory cortical involvement in responses to noxious stimulation in the cat

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The experiment examines the role of the cerebral cortex in regulating responses to noxious stimulation by studying the effects of cortical ablations in cats on escape from electric shock applied to the foot pads. The latency of escape as a function of shock intensity was measured before and after bilateral ablations of various portions of the cat's somatosensory cerebral cortex. Ablations of the second somatosensory cerebral cortex significantly increased the escape response threshold. If the sulci bordering this region were included in the ablation, the threshold increase was greater and longer-lasting. Ablations of the primary somatosensory cortex increased latencies at most intensities of electric shock, but did not change the response thresholds. Ablations of both primary and second somatosensory cortex increased response thresholds and response latencies. None of these ablations altered the responses, however, if the cat had been overtrained for six to seven months prior to surgery. The results suggest that the second somatosensory region and the sulci bordering the second somatosensory region in the cat cerebral cortex are involved in responses to noxious stimulation.

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Supported by PHS grant NS 02992. We thank Dr. D.R. Kenshalo for enlightening conversations and for critical comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. We thank Dr. R. B. Masterton for permitting the loan and modification of the double-grill box and for advice during the early stages of training cats.

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Berkley, K.J., Parmer, R. Somatosensory cortical involvement in responses to noxious stimulation in the cat. Exp Brain Res 20, 363–374 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00237381

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Key words

  • Pain
  • Somatosensation
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cat