89,666 research outputs found

    Tactile-STAR: A Novel Tactile STimulator And Recorder System for Evaluating and Improving Tactile Perception

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    Many neurological diseases impair the motor and somatosensory systems. While several different technologies are used in clinical practice to assess and improve motor functions, somatosensation is evaluated subjectively with qualitative clinical scales. Treatment of somatosensory deficits has received limited attention. To bridge the gap between the assessment and training of motor vs. somatosensory abilities, we designed, developed, and tested a novel, low-cost, two-component (bimanual) mechatronic system targeting tactile somatosensation: the Tactile-STAR—a tactile stimulator and recorder. The stimulator is an actuated pantograph structure driven by two servomotors, with an end-effector covered by a rubber material that can apply two different types of skin stimulation: brush and stretch. The stimulator has a modular design, and can be used to test the tactile perception in different parts of the body such as the hand, arm, leg, big toe, etc. The recorder is a passive pantograph that can measure hand motion using two potentiometers. The recorder can serve multiple purposes: participants can move its handle to match the direction and amplitude of the tactile stimulator, or they can use it as a master manipulator to control the tactile stimulator as a slave. Our ultimate goal is to assess and affect tactile acuity and somatosensory deficits. To demonstrate the feasibility of our novel system, we tested the Tactile-STAR with 16 healthy individuals and with three stroke survivors using the skin-brush stimulation. We verified that the system enables the mapping of tactile perception on the hand in both populations. We also tested the extent to which 30 min of training in healthy individuals led to an improvement of tactile perception. The results provide a first demonstration of the ability of this new system to characterize tactile perception in healthy individuals, as well as a quantification of the magnitude and pattern of tactile impairment in a small cohort of stroke survivors. The finding that short-term training with Tactile-STARcan improve the acuity of tactile perception in healthy individuals suggests that Tactile-STAR may have utility as a therapeutic intervention for somatosensory deficits

    Damage to the right insula disrupts the perception of affective touch

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    © 2020 Kirsch et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.Specific, peripheral C-tactile afferents contribute to the perception of tactile pleasure, but the brain areas involved in their processing remain debated. We report the first human lesion study on the perception of C-tactile touch in right hemisphere stroke patients (N = 59), revealing that right posterior and anterior insula lesions reduce tactile, contralateral and ipsilateral pleasantness sensitivity, respectively. These findings corroborate previous imaging studies regarding the role of the posterior insula in the perception of affective touch. However, our findings about the crucial role of the anterior insula for ipsilateral affective touch perception open new avenues of enquiry regarding the cortical organization of this tactile system.Peer reviewe

    Categorical perception of tactile distance

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    The tactile surface forms a continuous sheet covering the body. And yet, the perceived distance between two touches varies across stimulation sites. Perceived tactile distance is larger when stimuli cross over the wrist, compared to when both fall on either the hand or the forearm. This effect could reflect a categorical distortion of tactile space across body-part boundaries (in which stimuli crossing the wrist boundary are perceptually elongated) or may simply reflect a localised increased in acuity surrounding anatomical landmarks (in which stimuli near the wrist are perceptually elongated). We tested these two interpretations, by comparing a well-documented bias to perceive mediolateral tactile distances across the forearm/hand as larger than proximodistal ones along the forearm/hand at three different sites (hand, wrist, and forearm). According to the ‘categorical’ interpretation, tactile distances should be elongated selectively in the proximodistal axis thus reducing the anisotropy. According to the ‘localised acuity’ interpretation, distances will be perceptually elongated in the vicinity of the wrist regardless of orientation, leading to increased overall size without affecting anisotropy. Consistent with the categorical account, we found a reduction in the magnitude of anisotropy at the wrist, with no evidence of a corresponding specialized increase in precision. These findings demonstrate that we reference touch to a representation of the body that is categorically segmented into discrete parts, which consequently influences the perception of tactile distance

    Effects of Fusion between Tactile and Proprioceptive Inputs on Tactile Perception

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    Tactile perception is typically considered the result of cortical interpretation of afferent signals from a network of mechanical sensors underneath the skin. Yet, tactile illusion studies suggest that tactile perception can be elicited without afferent signals from mechanoceptors. Therefore, the extent that tactile perception arises from isomorphic mapping of tactile afferents onto the somatosensory cortex remains controversial. We tested whether isomorphic mapping of tactile afferent fibers onto the cortex leads directly to tactile perception by examining whether it is independent from proprioceptive input by evaluating the impact of different hand postures on the perception of a tactile illusion across fingertips. Using the Cutaneous Rabbit Effect, a well studied illusion evoking the perception that a stimulus occurs at a location where none has been delivered, we found that hand posture has a significant effect on the perception of the illusion across the fingertips. This finding emphasizes that tactile perception arises from integration of perceived mechanical and proprioceptive input and not purely from tactile interaction with the external environment

    Caveat Emptor: The Meaning of Perception and Integration in Speech Perception

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    A recent letter^1^ claimed integration of auditory and tactile information in speech perception. Although I have been an advocate of multisensory integration, neither perception nor integration was sufficiently formalized, operationalized, and tested to support this claim

    Shear-invariant Sliding Contact Perception with a Soft Tactile Sensor

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    Manipulation tasks often require robots to be continuously in contact with an object. Therefore tactile perception systems need to handle continuous contact data. Shear deformation causes the tactile sensor to output path-dependent readings in contrast to discrete contact readings. As such, in some continuous-contact tasks, sliding can be regarded as a disturbance over the sensor signal. Here we present a shear-invariant perception method based on principal component analysis (PCA) which outputs the required information about the environment despite sliding motion. A compliant tactile sensor (the TacTip) is used to investigate continuous tactile contact. First, we evaluate the method offline using test data collected whilst the sensor slides over an edge. Then, the method is used within a contour-following task applied to 6 objects with varying curvatures; all contours are successfully traced. The method demonstrates generalisation capabilities and could underlie a more sophisticated controller for challenging manipulation or exploration tasks in unstructured environments. A video showing the work described in the paper can be found at https://youtu.be/wrTM61-pieUComment: Accepted in ICRA 201