This study examined the relationship of single-neuron activity (n = 739), recorded from the lateral striatum of freely moving rats, to oral movements involved in licking single drops of liquid. Certain neurons (n = 74) fired specifically in relation to licking. Their firing rates increased during licking, but remained near zero in the absence of licking, throughout a full sensorimotor examination of the remainder of the orofacial area and all other body parts. Another category of neurons (n = 17) fired during licking but also fired in the absence of licking, during one or more other orofacial sensorimotor function(s). Lick-related neurons were located in the lateral striatum, throughout the entire anterior-posterior range studied (from +1.5 to -1.5 mm anterior-posterior, A-P, bregma = 0). Summed over the full A-P range, they were located significantly ventral to representations of the trunk and limbs. These findings extend the characterization of the somatotopic organization exhibited by lateral striatal neurons in the rat, to include representation of oral functions, consistent with converging evidence regarding the functional organization of the striatum.
- Oral behavior