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Hand and face somatotopy shown using MRI-safe vibrotactile stimulation with a novel soft pneumatic actuator (SPA)-skin interface


Kikkert, Sanne; Sonar, Harshal A; Freund, Patrick; Paik, Jamie; Wenderoth, Nicole (2023). Hand and face somatotopy shown using MRI-safe vibrotactile stimulation with a novel soft pneumatic actuator (SPA)-skin interface. NeuroImage, 269:119932.

Abstract

The exact somatotopy of the human facial representation in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) remains debated. One reason that progress has been hampered is due to the methodological challenge of how to apply automated vibrotactile stimuli to face areas in a manner that is: (1) reliable despite differences in the curvatures of face locations; and (2) MR-compatible and free of MR-interference artefacts when applied in the MR head-coil. Here we overcome this challenge by using soft pneumatic actuator (SPA) technology. SPAs are made of a soft silicon material and can be in- or deflated by means of airflow, have a small diameter, and are flexible in structure, enabling good skin contact even on curved body surfaces (as on the face). To validate our approach, we first mapped the well-characterised S1 finger layout using this novel device and confirmed that tactile stimulation of the fingers elicited characteristic somatotopic finger activations in S1. We then used the device to automatically and systematically deliver somatosensory stimulation to different face locations. We found that the forehead representation was least distant from the representation of the hand. Within the face representation, we found that the lip representation is most distant from the forehead representation, with the chin represented in between. Together, our results demonstrate that this novel MR compatible device produces robust and clear somatotopic representational patterns using vibrotactile stimulation through SPA-technology.

Abstract

The exact somatotopy of the human facial representation in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) remains debated. One reason that progress has been hampered is due to the methodological challenge of how to apply automated vibrotactile stimuli to face areas in a manner that is: (1) reliable despite differences in the curvatures of face locations; and (2) MR-compatible and free of MR-interference artefacts when applied in the MR head-coil. Here we overcome this challenge by using soft pneumatic actuator (SPA) technology. SPAs are made of a soft silicon material and can be in- or deflated by means of airflow, have a small diameter, and are flexible in structure, enabling good skin contact even on curved body surfaces (as on the face). To validate our approach, we first mapped the well-characterised S1 finger layout using this novel device and confirmed that tactile stimulation of the fingers elicited characteristic somatotopic finger activations in S1. We then used the device to automatically and systematically deliver somatosensory stimulation to different face locations. We found that the forehead representation was least distant from the representation of the hand. Within the face representation, we found that the lip representation is most distant from the forehead representation, with the chin represented in between. Together, our results demonstrate that this novel MR compatible device produces robust and clear somatotopic representational patterns using vibrotactile stimulation through SPA-technology.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Neurology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:1 April 2023
Deposited On:06 Mar 2023 13:06
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:36
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2023.119932
PubMed ID:36750151
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)