Separability of neural responses to standardised mechanical stimulation of limbs


Considerable scientific and technological efforts are currently being made towards the development of neural prostheses. Understanding how the peripheral nervous system responds to electro-mechanical stimulation of the limb, will help to inform the design of prostheses that can restore function or accelerate recovery from injury to the sensory motor system. However, due to differences in experimental protocols, it is difficult, if not impossible, to make meaningful comparisons between different peripheral nerve interfaces. Therefore, we developed a low-cost electronic system to standardise the mechanical stimulation of a rat’s hindpaw. Three types of mechanical stimulations, namely, proprioception, touch and nociception were delivered to the limb and the electroneurogram signals were recorded simultaneously from the sciatic nerve with a 16-contact cuff electrode. For the first time, results indicate separability of neural responses according to stimulus type as well as intensity. Statistical analysis reveal that cuff contacts placed circumferentially, rather than longitudinally, are more likely to lead to higher classification rates. This flexible setup may be readily adapted for systematic comparison of various electrodes and mechanical stimuli in rodents. Hence, we have made its electro-mechanical design and computer programme available online

Published in: Natures, Cientific Reports


Brunton, E; Blau, CW; Nazarpour, K.

Publication Information:

IScientific Reportsvolume 7, Article number: 11138 (2017)