Neural Coding of Vibration Intensity, 2021

Topics: haptics, neural signal processing, vibration, sensation, alpha ERD

Authors: Wanjoo Park, Sung-Phil Kim, Mohamad Eid


Vibrotactile feedback technology has become widely used in human-computer interaction due to its low cost, wearability, and expressiveness. Although neuroimaging studies have investigated neural processes associated with different types of vibrotactile feedback, encoding vibration intensity in the brain remains largely unknown. The aim of this study is to investigate neural processes associated with vibration intensity using electroencephalography. Twenty-nine healthy participants (aged 18-40 years, nine females) experienced vibrotactile feedback at the distal phalanx of the left index finger with three vibration intensity conditions: no vibration, low-intensity vibration (1.56 g), and high-intensity vibration (2.26 g). The alpha and beta band event-related desynchronization (ERD) as well as P2 and P3 event-related potential components for each of the three vibration intensity conditions are obtained. Results demonstrate that the ERD in the alpha band in the contralateral somatosensory and motor cortex areas is significantly associated with the vibration intensity. The average power spectral density (PSD) of the peak period of the ERD (400-600 ms) is significantly stronger for the high- and low-vibration intensity conditions compared to the no vibration condition. Furthermore, the average PSD of the ERD rebound (700-2,000 ms) is significantly maintained for the high-vibration intensity compared to low-intensity and no vibration conditions. Beta ERD signals the presence of vibration. These findings inform the development of quantitative measurements for vibration intensities based on neural signals.

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