Researchers from the Washington University Center for the Study of Itch and Sensory Disorders have identified a specific neuropeptide and a neural circuit that transmit pleasant touch from the skin to the brain. The findings eventually may help scientists better understand and treat disorders characterized by touch avoidance and impaired social development.
A new study could be a game changer for users of prosthetic hands who have long awaited advances in dexterity. Researchers examined if people could precisely control the grip forces applied to two different objects grasped simultaneously with a dexterous artificial hand. They designed a multichannel wearable soft robotic armband to convey artificial sensations of touch to the robotic hand users. Subjects were able to successfully grasp and transport two objects simultaneously with the dexterous artificial hand without breaking or dropping them, even when their vision of both objects was obstructed. The study is the first to show the feasibility of this complex simultaneous control task while integrating multiple channels of haptic/touch sensation feedback noninvasively.
Prosthetics currently lack the sensation of “touch.” To enable a more natural feeling prosthetic hand interface, researchers are the first to incorporate stretchable tactile sensors using liquid metal and machine learning. This hierarchical multi-finger tactile sensation integration could provide a higher level of intelligence for artificial hands by improving control, providing haptic feedback and reconnecting amputees to a previously severed sense of touch.