We used simultaneous multi-site neural ensemble recordings to investigate the representation of tactile information in three areas of the primate somatosensory cortex (areas 3b, SII and 2). Small neural ensembles (30-40 neurons) of broadly tuned somatosensory neurons were able to identify correctly the location of a single tactile stimulus on a single trial, almost simultaneously. Furthermore, each of these cortical areas could use different combinations of encoding strategies, such as mean firing rate (areas 3b and 2) or temporal patterns of ensemble firing (area SII), to represent the location of a tactile stimulus. Based on these results, we propose that ensembles of broadly tuned neurons, located in three distinct areas of the primate somatosensory cortex, obtain information about the location of a tactile stimulus almost concurrently.
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