Intracortical microstimulation of somatosensory cortex enables object identification through perceived sensations

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2021 Nov:2021:6259-6262. doi: 10.1109/EMBC46164.2021.9630450.


Advances in brain-machine interfaces have helped restore function and independence for individuals with sensorimotor deficits; however, providing efficient and effective sensory feedback remains challenging. Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) of sensorimotor brain regions is a promising technique for providing bioinspired sensory feedback. In a human participant with chronically-implanted microelectrode arrays, we provided ICMS to the primary somatosensory cortex to generate tactile percepts in his hand. In a 3-choice object identification task, the participant identified virtual objects using tactile sensory feedback and no visual information. We evaluated three different stimulation paradigms, each with a different weighting of the grip force and its derivative, to explore the potential benefits of a more bioinspired stimulation strategy. In all paradigms, the participant's ability to identify the objects was above-chance, with object identification accuracy reaching 80% correct when using only sustained grip force feedback and 76.7% when using equal weighting of both sustained grip force and its derivative. These results demonstrate that bioinspired ICMS can provide sensory feedback that is functionally beneficial in sensorimotor tasks. Designing more efficient stimulation paradigms is important because it will allow us to 1) provide safer stimulation delivery methods that reduce overall injected charge without sacrificing function and 2) more effectively transmit sensory information to promote intuitive integration and usage by the human body.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Microelectrodes
  • Somatosensory Cortex*
  • Touch