Sensory feedback for upper limb prostheses

Steven S. Hsiao, Michael Fettiplace, Bejan Darbandi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Scopus citations


In this chapter, we discuss the neurophysiological basis of how to provide sensory feedback to users with an upper limb prosthesis and discuss some of the theoretical issues that need to be considered when directly stimulating neurons in the somatosensory system. We focus on technologies that are currently available and discuss approaches that are most likely to succeed in providing natural perception from the artificial hand to the user. First, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of providing feedback by stimulating directly the remaining afferents that originally innervated the arm and hand. In particular, we pay close attention to the normal functional roles that the peripheral afferents play in perception. What are the consequences and implications of stimulating these afferents? We then discuss whether it is reasonable to stimulate neurons in the ascending pathways that carry the information from the afferents to the cortex or directly in neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex. We show that for some modalities there are advantages for stimulating in the spinal cord, while for others it is advantageous to stimulate directly in the somatosensory cortex. Finally, we discuss results from a current experiment in which we used electrical stimuli in primary somatosensory cortex to restore the percept of the intensity of a mechanical probe indented into the hand. The results suggest that the simple percept of stimulus intensity can be provided to the animal from a single finger using four electrodes. We propose that significantly more electrodes will be needed to reproduce more complex aspects of tactile perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProgress in Brain Research
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123
ISSN (Electronic)1875-7855


  • Electrical stimulation
  • Neural code
  • Sensory feedback
  • Somatosensory organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Sensory feedback for upper limb prostheses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this