Development of a Touch Stimulator for Functional Magnetic-Resonance Imaging
Alhussain, Amer Qassim Mallah
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
A tactile display system has been built with 25 contactors in a 5 × 5 array with 2mm spacing, designed to stimulate the fingertip. The drive mechanism for each contactor is a piezoelectric bimorph, allowing the display to use in functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments (fMRI). The amplitude and frequency of stimulation can be pre-set, and each contactor can be activated separately using a personal computer. The tactile produce a wide variety of time-varying spatial patterns of touch stimulation. The sensation is “natural” and the participants do not find the experience unpleasant. The psychophysics experiment and the first fMRI experiment involved identification of various patterns on the display: the tactile stimulus was stationary or moved in a circle or in a “random” trajectory with no obvious shape. Response was by push buttons. The second fMRI experiment focused on the relationship between the speed of tactile motion and the corresponding activation in the brain, using stimuli moving in a circular trajectory on the tactile display at various speeds in the range 2.9 to 77.9 mm s –1. In the psychophysics experiment, the mean identification score was 80% after only a few minutes’ practice. The results of the first fMRI experiment showed highly significant activations in primary and secondary somatosensory cortices for contrasts of circle or random stimuli with the rest condition; low significant activations in SI and SII were observed for the contrast of stationary stimuli with rest. Broca's area was found to be activated for circle and random stimulation but not for stationary stimulation. Results from the second fMRI experiment showed small speed-sensitive activations in the left side of the brain, mostly in the primary somatosensory cortex. The conclusion in present study was our tactile system can produce different types of tactile patterns and it works inside MRI scanner.
Doctor of Philosophy in Physics