What does the hand tell the brain? Tactile stimulation of the hand evokes remarkably precise patterns of neural activity, suggesting that the timing of individual spikes may convey information (15). However, many aspects of the transformation of mechanical deformations of the skin into spike trains remain unknown. Here, we describe an integrate-and-fire model that accurately predicts the timing of individual spikes evoked by arbitrary mechanical vibrations in three types of mechanoreceptive afferent fibers that innervate the hand. The model accounts for most known properties of the three fiber types, including rectification, frequency-sensitivity, and patterns of spike entrainment as a function of stimulus frequency. These results not only shed light on the mechanisms of mechanotransduction but can be used to provide realistic tactile feedback in upper-limb neuroprostheses.
- Copyright © 2010, Journal of Neurophysiology