Thresholds for the perception of hand-transmitted vibration: dependence on contact area and contact location

Somatosens Mot Res. 2005 Dec;22(4):281-97. doi: 10.1080/08990220500420400.


The detection of vibration applied to the glabrous skin of the hand varies with contact conditions. Three experiments have been conducted to relate variations in the perception of hand-transmitted vibration to previously reported properties of tactile channels. The effects of a surround around the area of contact, the size of the area of contact, the location of the area of contact, the contact force, and the hand posture on perception of thresholds were determined for 8-500 Hz vibration. Removal of a surround around a contact area on the fingertip elevated thresholds of the NP II channel (FA I fibres) at frequencies less than 31.5 Hz and reduced thresholds of the Pacinian channel (FA II fibres) at frequencies greater than about 63 Hz. When no surround was present, thresholds reduced systematically as the contact area increased from the fingertip to the whole hand at frequencies from 16 to 125 Hz, although the decrease was not inversely proportional to the increase in contact area. The results are partly explained by spatial summation in the Pacinian channel (FA II fibres) and the involvement of the NP II channel (SA II) with some influence of biodynamic responses and contact pressures. There were regional differences in sensitivity over the hand within the NP I channel but not within the Pacinian channel: the NP I thresholds (less than 31.5 Hz) decreased from proximal to distal regions of the hand, whereas the Pacinian thresholds (125 Hz) were independent of contact location over the hand.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Attention / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hand / innervation*
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Pacinian Corpuscles / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Reference Values
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology*
  • Vibration*