SC Koch, D Acton and M Goulding,
Annual review of physiology, Sep 27 2017
The exteroceptive somatosensory system is important for reflexive and adaptive behaviors and for the dynamic control of movement in response to external stimuli. This review outlines recent efforts using genetic approaches in the mouse to map the spinal cord circuits that transmit and gate the cutaneous somatosensory modalities of touch, itch, and pain. Recent studies have revealed an underlying modular architecture in which nociceptive, pruritic, and innocuous stimuli are processed by distinct molecularly defined interneuron cell types. These include excitatory populations that transmit information about both innocuous and painful touch and inhibitory populations that serve as a gate to prevent innocuous stimuli from activating the nociceptive and pruritic transmission pathways. By dissecting the cellular composition of dorsal-horn networks, studies are therefore beginning to elucidate the intricate computational logic of somatosensory transformation in health and disease. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Physiology Volume 80 is February 10, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.