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Effect of imperceptible vibratory noise applied to wrist skin on fingertip touch evoked potentials - an EEG study. Physiol Rep 2015 Nov;3(11)



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Random vibration applied to skin can change the sense of touch. Specifically, low amplitude white-noise vibration can improve fingertip touch perception. In fact, fingertip touch sensation can improve even when imperceptible random vibration is applied to other remote upper extremity areas such as wrist, dorsum of the hand, or forearm. As such, vibration can be used to manipulate sensory feedback and improve dexterity, particularly during neurological rehabilitation. Nonetheless, the neurological bases for remote vibration enhanced sensory feedback are yet poorly understood. This study examined how imperceptible random vibration applied to the wrist changes cortical activity for fingertip sensation. We measured somatosensory evoked potentials to assess peak-to-peak response to light touch of the index fingertip with applied wrist vibration versus without. We observed increased peak-to-peak somatosensory evoked potentials with wrist vibration, especially with increased amplitude of the later component for the somatosensory, motor, and premotor cortex with wrist vibration. These findings corroborate an enhanced cortical-level sensory response motivated by vibration. It is possible that the cortical modulation observed here is the result of the establishment of transient networks for improved perception.

Author List

Seo NJ, Lakshminarayanan K, Bonilha L, Lauer AW, Schmit BD


Brian Schmit PhD Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at Marquette University