The cellular basis of mechanosensation in mammalian tongue


In this study, in-vivo calcium imaging of mouse trigeminal ganglion neurons is employed to identify functional groups of mechanosensory neurons that innervate the anterior tongue. These neurons respond to both thermal and mechanical stimulation, playing a crucial role in guiding feeding, speech, and social grooming. The analysis of neuronal activity patterns reveals that the majority of these trigeminal neurons are specialized in detecting moving stimuli across the tongue. A multilayer hierarchical clustering approach identifies five functional classes of mechanosensory neurons with distinct force-response relations and adaptation profiles, each tuned to detect different features of touch. The findings provide insights into the contributions of functionally distinct mechanosensory neurons to oral behaviors essential for mammalian survival.