An electromechanical stimulator system for neurophysiological and psychophysical studies of pain

J Neurosci Methods. 1995 Aug;60(1-2):61-8. doi: 10.1016/0165-0270(94)00220-b.


We have developed a computer-based electromechanical stimulator system suited for neurophysiological and psychophysical studies of pain. The core of the stimulator is a servo-controlled linear motor capable of generating 1 kg of force over a 22-mm range. Forces collinear and tangenital to the interchangeable probe tip are calculated using the signal from 3 load cells (resolution: 1/8 g; range: 250 g) arranged in an equilateral triangle. Probe position is measured with an optical encoder (resolution: 1 micron; range: 25 mm). A microprocessor-based digital control system permits smooth switching of feedback control between force or position at the 1-kHz update rate. The stimulator is mounted on a microprocessor-controlled 3-axis translation system that allows automatic movement of the probe over a range of greater than 15 cm to an accuracy of better than 10 microns. The stimulator can be programmed to move in a coordinate system parallel to the skin surface being examined. An IBM-compatible computer is used to command stimulus paradigms and to display real-time motor performance and neural spike-train data. The system has been used to measure the response of nociceptive afferents in monkey to controlled force stimuli applied to various positions within the receptive field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Feedback
  • Haplorhini
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain Measurement / instrumentation*
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Software