Proprioceptive and cutaneous sensations in humans elicited by intracortical microstimulation

Elife. 2018 Apr 10;7:e32904. doi: 10.7554/eLife.32904.


Pioneering work with nonhuman primates and recent human studies established intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) in primary somatosensory cortex (S1) as a method of inducing discriminable artificial sensation. However, these artificial sensations do not yet provide the breadth of cutaneous and proprioceptive percepts available through natural stimulation. In a tetraplegic human with two microelectrode arrays implanted in S1, we report replicable elicitations of sensations in both the cutaneous and proprioceptive modalities localized to the contralateral arm, dependent on both amplitude and frequency of stimulation. Furthermore, we found a subset of electrodes that exhibited multimodal properties, and that proprioceptive percepts on these electrodes were associated with higher amplitudes, irrespective of the frequency. These novel results demonstrate the ability to provide naturalistic percepts through ICMS that can more closely mimic the body's natural physiological capabilities. Furthermore, delivering both cutaneous and proprioceptive sensations through artificial somatosensory feedback could improve performance and embodiment in brain-machine interfaces.

Trial registration: NCT01964261.

Keywords: brain-machine interface; human; intracortical microstimulation; neuroscience; proprioception; somatosensation; somatosensory cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microelectrodes*
  • Proprioception*
  • Skin / innervation
  • Skin / physiopathology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch Perception

Associated data