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Evaluation of a pneumatically driven tactile stimulator device for vision substitution during fMRI-studies


Zappe,  AC
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Zappe, A., Maucher T, Meier, K., & Scheiber, C. (2004). Evaluation of a pneumatically driven tactile stimulator device for vision substitution during fMRI-studies. Magnetic Resonance for Medicine, 51(4), 828-834. Retrieved from

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments on tactile perception are difficult to perform because the special characteristics of an MRI environment restrict the experimental setup. Although recently developed actuators have made it possible to apply vibrotactile stimuli to the skin during an fMRI experiment, the projection of spatially extended patterns is still precluded. In order to examine the processing of tactile perception, a new pneumatically-driven tactile device (PTD) has been built. This device is capable of stimulating the skin, using arbitrary time sequences that consist of 2D tactile images up to 64 pixels. It is shown how the device is implemented in a 2 T fMRI environment, and show that it operates without generating artifacts. Dedicated software allows the generation of complex paradigms and provides a user-friendly interface to other brain mapping systems, as well as automated operation. This paper describes the PTD elucidates its features, and demonstrate its reliability by reporting results from an fMRI study based on an event-related protocol involving six subjects.