Perception of motion in touch: Skin stretch and displacement across the skin as motion cues

Summary

When a hand moves over a surface, or an object slides across the skin, we feel not only what the surface is like, but the characteristics of the motion itself, such as its speed and direction; like many other perceptual phenomena, this seemingly simple fact has not been easy to explain. We want to find out how different aspects of skin - surface interaction give rise to the sensation of motion.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Tatjana Seizova-Cajic

Research Location

Clinical and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Group

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Sensory properties of the skin covering human and primate hands are unique in the animal world in terms of their complexity and ability to extract information. The hand's exquisite sensitivity depends to a large extent on its motion relative to the objects it touches or manipulates. Tactile motion is analyzed using peripheral and central neural mechanisms we do not understand, and the aim of the proposed research is to contribute to their better understanding.

The proposed study will be conducted on human subjects. It will rely on psychophysical methods and our unique, custom-built tactile stimulator. Its aim is to determine the relative significance of two tactile motion cues the tactile stimulator is able to deliver independently of one another: the displacement of an object's surface/edge across the skin, and skin stretching. This is basic research (i.e., with no immediate applications) that contributes to the knowledge underlying applications in the fields of clinical neurology, robotics and virtual reality systems.

Additional Information

• Researchers in this field have various backgrounds, from psychology to physiology, medicine, engineering, computer science, and other, and your own background does not have to be any one particular discipline. However, it is expected that you have studied science and that you understand basic principles of experimental research. Having studied perception and/or neuroscience would be an advantage
• Current PhD topic being undertaken in the laboratory concerns perception of speed of tactile motion
• We rely mainly on a psychophysical approach but opportunity also exists for use of microneurography (recording from somatosensory neurons of conscious human subjects)
• Financial support: Part-time research related work or one-year scholarship may be available
• Applications from candidates interested in pursuing other research topics within the general area of the proposed topic will be considered

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Keywords

cutaneous, hand, human senses, motion, neurophysiology of touch, perception, psychology, psychophysics, sensory processing, somatosensory, tactile perception, touch, skin, The senses

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1282

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