Of mice and monkeys: Somatosensory processing in two prominent animal models

Daniel H. O'Connor, Leah Krubitzer, Sliman Bensmaia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Our understanding of the neural basis of somatosensation is based largely on studies of the whisker system of mice and rats and the hands of macaque monkeys. Results across these animal models are often interpreted as providing direct insight into human somatosensation. Work on these systems has proceeded in parallel, capitalizing on the strengths of each model, but has rarely been considered as a whole. This lack of integration promotes a piecemeal understanding of somatosensation. Here, we examine the functions and morphologies of whiskers of mice and rats, the hands of macaque monkeys, and the somatosensory neuraxes of these three species. We then discuss how somatosensory information is encoded in their respective nervous systems, highlighting similarities and differences. We reflect on the limitations of these models of human somatosensation and consider key gaps in our understanding of the neural basis of somatosensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102008
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Comparative neuroscience
  • Neural coding
  • Primates
  • Proprioception
  • Rats
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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