A dense array stimulator to generate arbitrary spatio-temporal tactile stimuli

J Neurosci Methods. 2007 Mar 30;161(1):62-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2006.10.012. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


The generation and presentation of tactile stimuli presents a unique challenge. Unlike vision and audition, in which standard equipment such as monitors and audio systems can be used for most experiments, tactile stimuli and/or stimulators often have to be tailor-made for a given study. Here, we present a novel tactile stimulator designed to present arbitrary spatio-temporal stimuli to the skin. The stimulator consists of 400 pins, arrayed over a 1cm(2) area, each under independent computer control. The dense array allows for an unprecedented number of stimuli to be presented within an experimental session (e.g., up to 1200 stimuli per minute) and for stimuli to be generated adaptively. The stimulator can be used in a variety of modes and can deliver indented and scanned patterns as well as stimuli defined by mathematical spatio-temporal functions (e.g., drifting sinusoids). We describe the hardware and software of the system, and discuss previous and prospective applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Skin / innervation
  • Software
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • User-Computer Interface