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Patterned Stimulation of Peripheral Nerves Produces Natural Sensations With Regards to Location but Not Quality

By Kirstin Ahmed

Direct electrical stimulation of the peripheral nerves in individuals with amputations elicits sensations which are described as intuitive and natural with respect to where the sensation is felt on the missing hand, but not with respect to the subjective quality of the sensation. Three participants with a neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis were asked to describe the naturalness of sensations they felt when receiving nerve stimulation pulses that were slowly modulated. Sensations were generally perceived as artificial, citing “electric” or “tingling” characteristics. Our results indicate that this manner of patterned stimulation alone is not enough to transform sensations from artificial to natural quality, and thus novel developments and techniques are needed in the future.