The barrel cortex roughly corresponds to the primary somatosensory cortex of rodents. It has become a standard model system for the study of cortical structure, function, and development. It's the system where I spend most of my life as a postdoc.
Fox's book Barrel Cortex is the best overview that I have seen. It is unfortunately much too costly for out-of-pocket purchase (140 bucks), but your library may have a copy.