Chronic Use of a Sensitized Bionic Hand Does Not Remap the Sense of Touch

Cell Rep. 2020 Dec 22;33(12):108539. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108539.


Electrical stimulation of tactile nerve fibers that innervated an amputated hand results in vivid sensations experienced at a specific location on the phantom hand, a phenomenon that can be leveraged to convey tactile feedback through bionic hands. Ideally, electrically evoked sensations would be experienced on the appropriate part of the hand: touch with the bionic index fingertip, for example, would elicit a sensation experienced on the index fingertip. However, the perceived locations of sensations are determined by the idiosyncratic position of the stimulating electrode in the nerve and thus are difficult to predict or control. This problem could be circumvented if perceived sensations shifted over time to become consistent with the position of the sensor that triggers them. We show that, after long-term use of a neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis that featured a mismatch between the sensor location and the resulting tactile experience, the perceived location of the touch did not change.

Keywords: bionics; neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis; neuroplasticity; neuroprosthesis; osseointegration; perception; peripheral nerve stimulation; preserved sensory perception; somatosensation; touch.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bionics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Prostheses and Implants / standards*
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Touch Perception / physiology*