The body model theory of somatosensory cortex


May 10, 2016 - 12:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Michael Brecht (Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Berlin)

In my lecture I will introduce the body model theory of the somatosensory cortex. According to the theory, the somatosensory cortex constructs a 3D model of the body. This model allows simulations of body actions, and hence enables manipulation of the world by the body. The model is modular and explicit in the structure of layer 4 of the somatosensory cortex. Within processing modules, haptic space is assigned to and equated with cortical space. Somatosensory cortical plasticity can be understood as an ‘updating’ of this body model. The body model theory is much different from the classically held view that somatosensory is a ‘sensory (afferent) map’. I will present data from animal genital cortex and from human finger and face somatosensory cortex, which is incompatible with the sensory map theory, but that is strongly suggestive of a body model.