Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sense of touch reproduced through prosthetic hand

Date:
May 9, 2013
Source:
University of Chicago Medical Center
Summary:
Neurobiologists have shown how an organism can sense a tactile stimulus, in real time, through an artificial sensor for the first time.

In a study recently published in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, neurobiologists at the University of Chicago show how an organism can sense a tactile stimulus, in real time, through an artificial sensor in a prosthetic hand.

Scientists have made tremendous advances toward building lifelike prosthetic limbs that move and function like the real thing. These are amazing accomplishments, but an important element to creating a realistic replacement for a hand is the sense of touch. Without somatosensory feedback from the fingertips about how hard you're squeezing something or where it's positioned relative to the hand, grasping an object is about as accurate as using one of those skill cranes to grab a stuffed animal at an arcade. Sure, you can do it, but you have to concentrate intently while watching every movement. You're relying on your sense of vision to compensate for the lack of touch.

Sliman Bensmaia, assistant professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, studies the neural basis of the sense of touch. Now, he and his colleagues are working with a robotic hand equipped with sensors that send electrical signals to electrodes implanted in the brain to recreate the same response to touch as a real hand.

Bensmaia spoke about how important the sense of touch is to creating a lifelike experience with a prosthetic limb.

"If you lose your somatosensory system it almost looks like your motor system is impaired," he said. "If you really want to create an arm that can actually be used dexterously without the enormous amount of concentration it takes without sensory feedback, you need to restore the somatosensory feedback."

The researchers performed a series of experiments with rhesus macaques that were trained to respond to stimulation of the hand. In one setting, they were gently poked on the hand with a physical probe at varying levels of pressure. In a second setting, some of the animals had electrodes implanted into the area of the brain that responds to touch. These animals were given electrical pulses to simulate the sensation of touch, and their hands were hidden so they wouldn't see that they weren't actually being touched.

Using data from the animals' responses to each type of stimulus, the researchers were able to create a function, or equation, that described the requisite electrical pulse to go with each physical poke of the hand. Then, they repeated the experiments with a prosthetic hand that was wired to the brain implants. They touched the prosthetic hand with the physical probe, which in turn sent electrical signals to the brain.

Bensmaia said that the animals performed identically whether poked on their own hand or on the prosthetic one.

"This is the first time as far as I know where an animal or organism actually perceives a tactile stimulus through an artificial transducer," Bensmaia said. "It's an engineering milestone. But from a neuroengineering standpoint, this validates this function. You can use this function to have an animal perform this very precise task, precisely identically."

The FDA is in the process of approving similar devices for human trials, and Bensmaia said he hopes such a system is implemented within the next year. Producing a lifelike sense of touch would go a long way toward improving the dexterity and performance of prosthetic hands, but he said it would also help bridge a mental divide for amputees or people who have lost the use of a limb. Until now, prosthetics and robotic arms feel more like tools than real replacements because they don't produce the expected sensations.

"If every time you see your robotic arm touching something, you get a sensation that is projected to it, I think it's very possible that in fact, you will consider this new thing as being part of your body," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Berg, J. Dammann, F. Tenore, G. Tabot, J. Boback, L. Manfredi, M. Peterson, K. Katyal, M. Johannes, A. Makhlin, R. Wilcox, R. Franklin, R. Vogelstein, N. Hatsopoulos, S. Bensmaia. Behavioral Demonstration of a Somatosensory Neuroprosthesis. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1109/TNSRE.2013.2244616

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Medical Center. "Sense of touch reproduced through prosthetic hand." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509163844.htm>.
University of Chicago Medical Center. (2013, May 9). Sense of touch reproduced through prosthetic hand. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509163844.htm
University of Chicago Medical Center. "Sense of touch reproduced through prosthetic hand." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509163844.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins