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Mon, Oct 17

Speaker: Netta Gurari, Ph.D. (Post doc candidate)

Title: Characterization and Enhancement of Touch Perception Using Custom Haptic Systems

Abstract: Having compromised touch perception can limit one’s ability to perceive and interact with the environment. Example populations who struggle or fail to experience the human sense of touch include prosthesis users who lack sensation of their artificial limb(s); elderly people with deteriorating touch sensing capabilities; patient populations experiencing touch sensory losses (e.g., peripheral neuropathy, cortical stroke); and surgeons who lack force and cutaneous cues during robotic surgery.
In this presentation, I will discuss a model for how humans sense touch (specifically stiffness), followed by approaches for assisting individuals to recover lost touch perception.  I will begin with a discussion of a deterministic model that describes stiffness perception as the fusion of one's ability to sense proprioceptive and force cues.  Human subject testing results indicate that this model is plausible for describing the underlying mechanism for how a spring is perceived.  I will also discuss the design and characterization of the haptic device used for testing this model on humans.  Then, I will compare performance in a spring discrimination task when the motion information is conveyed through proprioception, vision, and/or artificial skin stretch.  Results from human psychophysics testing suggest that attention spent on visually monitoring an upper-limb prosthesis could be minimized by relaying proprioceptive information through a non-visual channel, and the skin stretch device may be a suitable mechanism for artificially relaying the position and motion information.  I will conclude with an overview of additional haptic systems developed for sensory substitution purposes, and a brief discussion of possible research directions in the rehabilitation robotics and cognitive neuroscience fields.

Host:  Dr. Patton