Stochastic facilitation of artificial tactile sensation in primates


Artificial sensation via electrical or optical stimulation of brain sensory areas offers a promising treatment for sensory deficits. For a brain-machine-brain interface, such artificial sensation conveys feedback signals from a sensorized prosthetic limb. The ways neural tissue can be stimulated to evoke artificial sensation and the parameter space of such stimulation, however, remain largely unexplored. Here we investigated whether stochastic facilitation (SF) could enhance an artificial tactile sensation produced by intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). Two rhesus monkeys learned to use a virtual hand, which they moved with a joystick, to explore virtual objects on a computer screen. They sought an object associated with a particular artificial texture (AT) signaled by a periodic ICMS pattern delivered to the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) through a pair of implanted electrodes. During each behavioral trial, aperiodic ICMS (i.e., noise) of randomly chosen amplitude was delivered to S1 through another electrode pair implanted 1 mm away from the site of AT delivery. Whereas high-amplitude noise worsened AT detection, moderate noise clearly improved the detection of weak signals, significantly raising the proportion of correct trials. These findings suggest that SF could be used to enhance prosthetic sensation. © 2012 the authors.

Journal of Neuroscience
Leo Medina
Leo Medina
Assistant Professor

Leo teaches computer engineering courses at Usach, and his research interests are in the neural engineering and computational neuroscience fields. His work has contributed to understand how nerve fibers respond to electrical stimulation.