Throughout this study the maxillary vibrissae have
been regarded as tactile organs in the sense that they
convey detailed information relating to the contact or
imminent contact between external objects and the face
of the cat. The possible use of these hairs as a composite
organ in orientation and searching behaviour, especially
in the dark, is stressed.
In this interpretation of the results of this study
an attempt has been made to view the function of mechanoreceptive afferents in as wide a sense as possible,
recognising the possibility of parallel processing of
tactile information in separate functional pathways.
The experimental work has been directed towards establish¬
ing the role of tactile information in the synthesis and
control of motor activity by its influence on cells of
the cerebellar cortex. This in itself would seem to
pre-define the function of such an influence by the
presumption of a purely motor operation of the cerebellum.
However, in terms of the percept ion of the spatial and
temporal relationships between the body and external
objects the cerebellum may not act simply as a high order
motor ganglion but as an integral part of a more broadly
defined somatosensory system.