Reproducibility of flutter-range vibrotactile detection and discrimination thresholds

Mark Mikkelsen, Jason He, Mark Tommerdahl, Richard A.E. Edden, Stewart H. Mostofsky, Nicolaas A.J. Puts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Somatosensory processing can be probed empirically through vibrotactile psychophysical experiments. Psychophysical approaches are valuable for investigating both normal and abnormal tactile function in healthy and clinical populations. To date, the test-retest reliability of vibrotactile detection and discrimination thresholds has yet to be established. This study sought to assess the reproducibility of vibrotactile detection and discrimination thresholds in human adults using an established vibrotactile psychophysical battery. Fifteen healthy adults underwent three repeat sessions of an eleven-task battery that measured a range of vibrotactile measures, including reaction time, detection threshold, amplitude and frequency discrimination, and temporal order judgement. Coefficients of variation and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated for the measures in each task. Linear mixed-effects models were used to test for length and training effects and differences between tasks within the same domain. Reaction times were shown to be the most reproducible (ICC: ~0.9) followed by detection thresholds (ICC: ~0.7). Frequency discrimination thresholds were the least reproducible (ICC: ~0.3). As reported in prior studies, significant differences in measures between related tasks were also found, demonstrating the reproducibility of task-related effects. These findings show that vibrotactile detection and discrimination thresholds are reliable, further supporting the use of psychophysical experiments to probe tactile function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6528
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

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