Electrocutaneous Stimulation of Skin Mechanoreceptors for Tactile Studies with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Valentina Hartwig (University of Pisa, Italy and C.N.R. Institute of Clinical Physiology, Italy), Claudia Cappelli (University of Pisa, Italy), Nicola Vanello (University of Pisa, Italy and C.N.R. Institute of Clinical Physiology, Italy), Emiliano Ricciardi (University of Pisa, Italy), Enzo Pasquale Scilingo (University of Pisa, Italy), Giulio Giovannetti (C.N.R. Institute of Clinical Physiology, Italy), Maria Filomena Santarelli (C.N.R. Institute of Clinical Physiology, Italy), Vincenzo Positano (C.N.R. Institute of Clinical Physiology, Italy), Pietro Pietrini (University of Pisa, Italy) and Lu Landini (University of Pisa, Italy)
Copyright: © 2008
To evoke specific sensations related to specific types of mechanoreceptors, we consider here the possibility of using electrotactile stimulation, varying the amplitude and the frequency of the stimulating electric signal, but maintaining the same waveform. According to a different specificity of the mechanoreceptors at different mechanical stimulus (Kaczmarek, Webster, Bach-y- Rita, & Tompkins, 1991), there might exist receptor specificity for different amplitude and frequency of electrical stimulus. In this case it could be possible to stimulate specifically several types of mechanoreceptors maintaining the same waveform and varying only its amplitude or frequency, with the possibility of creating a different sensation for tactile studies and augmented reality applications.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Intracutaneous Electrodes: Electrodes directly inserted into the nerves.
Electrocutaneous Display: A device that stimulates nerve afferents within the skin by electric current and can be constituted by several surface electrodes.
Electrocutaneous (or electrotactile) Stimulation: The evocation of a tactile sensation using an electric current flowing through the skin, via electrodes placed on the skin surface.
Merkel Cells: Slowly adapting (SA) afferents that are sensitive to points, edges, and curvature. They are responsible for form and texture perception.
Transcutaneous Electrodes: Electrodes placed in contact with the skin.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): Imaging technique based on blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) effect that allows localization of blood flow variations and oxygen consumption due to neuronal firing.
Mechanoreceptors: Cutaneous receptors that are sensitive to mechanical stimuli that are skin motion, skin stretch, pressure, vibration, points, edges, curvature.
Meissner Corpuscles: Rapidly adapting (RA) afferents that innervate the skin densely and are sensitive to dynamic skin deformation. They transmit a robust neural image of skin motion.