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Creating an artificial sense of touch through electrical stimuli

A new study led by University of Chicago neuroscientists brings them one step closer to building prosthetic limbs for humans that recreate a sense of touch through a direct interface with the brain. The research, published Oct. 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that artificial touch is highly dependent on several features of electrical stimuli, such as the strength and frequency of signals. It describes the specific characteristics of these signals, including how much each feature needs to be adjusted to produce a different sensation. “This is where the rubber meets the road in building touch-sensitive neuroprosthetics,” said Sliman Bensmaia, associate professor of organismal biology and anatomy and senior author of the study. “Now we understand the nuts and bolts of stimulation, and what tools are at our disposal to create artificial sensations by stimulating the brain.””

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