A dense array stimulator to generate arbitrary spatio-temporal tactile stimuli

Justin H. Killebrew, Sliman J. Bensmaïa, John F. Dammann, Peter Denchev, Steven S. Hsiao, James C. Craig, Kenneth O. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The generation and presentation of tactile stimuli presents a unique challenge. Unlike vision and audition, in which standard equipment such as monitors and audio systems can be used for most experiments, tactile stimuli and/or stimulators often have to be tailor-made for a given study. Here, we present a novel tactile stimulator designed to present arbitrary spatio-temporal stimuli to the skin. The stimulator consists of 400 pins, arrayed over a 1 cm2 area, each under independent computer control. The dense array allows for an unprecedented number of stimuli to be presented within an experimental session (e.g., up to 1200 stimuli per minute) and for stimuli to be generated adaptively. The stimulator can be used in a variety of modes and can deliver indented and scanned patterns as well as stimuli defined by mathematical spatio-temporal functions (e.g., drifting sinusoids). We describe the hardware and software of the system, and discuss previous and prospective applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 30 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurophysiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Somatosensory
  • Spatial processing
  • Stimulator
  • Tactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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