An electromechanical stimulator system for neurophysiological and psychophysical studies of pain

W. Schneider, R. M. Slugg, B. P. Turnquist, R. A. Meyer, J. N. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We have developed a computer-based electromechanical stimulator system suited for neurophysiological and psychophysical studies of pain. The core of the stimulator is a servo-controlled linear motor capable of generating 1 kg of force over a 22-mm range. Forces collinear and tangential to the interchangeable probe tip are calculated using the signal from 3 load cells (resolution: 1 8 g; range: 250 g) arranged in an equilateral triangle. Probe position is measured with an optical encoder (resolution: 1 μm; range: 25 mm). A microprocessor-based digital control system permits smooth switching of feedback control between force or position at the 1-kHz update rate. The stimulator is mounted on a microprocessor-controlled 3-axis translation system that allows automatic movement of the probe over a range of greater than 15 cm to an accuracy of better than 10 μm. The stimulator can be programmed to move in a coordinate system parallel to the skin surface being examined. An IBM-compatible computer is used to command stimulus paradigms and to display real-time motor performance and neural spike-train data. The system has been used to measure the response of nociceptive afferents in monkey to controlled force stimuli applied to various positions within the receptive field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1995


  • Compliance
  • Mechanical stimulator
  • Nociception
  • Psychophysics
  • Tissue mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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