Objective: The dexterous manipulation of objects depends heavily on somatosensory signals from the limb. The development of anthropomorphic robotic arms and of algorithms to decode intended movements from neuronal signals has stimulated the need to restore somatosensation for use in upper-limb neuroprostheses. Without touch and proprioception, patients have difficulty controlling prosthetic limbs to a level that justifies the required invasive surgery. Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) through chronically implanted electrode arrays has the potential to provide rich and intuitive sensory feedback. This approach to sensory restoration requires, however, that the evoked sensations remain stable over time.
Approach: To investigate the stability of ICMS-evoked sensations, we measured the ability of non-human primates to detect ICMS over experimental sessions that spanned years.
Main results: We found that the performance of the animals remained highly stable over time, even when they were tested with electrodes that had experienced extensive stimulation.
Significance: Given the stability of the sensations that it evokes, ICMS may thus be a viable approach for sensory restoration.