Header logo is hi

Peripheral vs. central determinants of vibrotactile adaptation




Long-lasting mechanical vibrations applied to the skin induce a reversible decrease in the perception of vibration at the stimulated skin site. This phenomenon of vibrotactile adaptation has been studied extensively, yet there is still no clear consensus on the mechanisms leading to vibrotactile adaptation. In particular, the respective contributions of 1) changes affecting mechanical skin impedance, 2) peripheral processes, and 3) central processes are largely unknown. Here we used direct electrical stimulation of nerve fibers to bypass mechanical transduction processes and thereby explore the possible contribution of central vs. peripheral processes to vibrotactile adaptation. Three experiments were conducted. In the first, adaptation was induced with mechanical vibration of the fingertip (51- or 251-Hz vibration delivered for 8 min, at 40× detection threshold). In the second, we attempted to induce adaptation with transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the median nerve (51- or 251-Hz constant-current pulses delivered for 8 min, at 1.5× detection threshold). Vibrotactile detection thresholds were measured before and after adaptation. Mechanical stimulation induced a clear increase of vibrotactile detection thresholds. In contrast, thresholds were unaffected by electrical stimulation. In the third experiment, we assessed the effect of mechanical adaptation on the detection thresholds to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimuli, measured before and after adaptation. Electrical detection thresholds were unaffected by the mechanical adaptation. Taken together, our results suggest that vibrotactile adaptation is predominantly the consequence of peripheral mechanoreceptor processes and/or changes in biomechanical properties of the skin.

Author(s): Klöcker, A. and Gueorguiev, D. and Thonnard, J. L. and Mouraux, A.
Journal: Journal of Neurophysiology
Volume: 115
Number (issue): 2
Pages: 685-691
Year: 2016

Department(s): Haptic Intelligence
Bibtex Type: Article (article)

DOI: 10.1152/jn.00519.2015
Eprint: https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00519.2015
Note: PMID: 26581868
URL: https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00519.2015


  title = {Peripheral vs. central determinants of vibrotactile adaptation},
  author = {Kl{\"o}cker, A. and Gueorguiev, D. and Thonnard, J. L. and Mouraux, A.},
  journal = {Journal of Neurophysiology},
  volume = {115},
  number = {2},
  pages = {685-691},
  year = {2016},
  note = {PMID: 26581868},
  eprint = {https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00519.2015},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00519.2015}