Deeper understanding of our ‘sense of touch’ could lead to better prostheses

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Image: Bernardo Ramonfaur

Imagine you’re holding a pen by the tip-side in between your thumb and index finger. You close your eyes and ask someone to tap it once on the opposite side. Then you ask them to tap it again, but this time, the person taps closer to the middle of the pen. Think you’d be able to differentiate between the end and middle taps?

According to research led by cognitive neuroscientist Luke Miller and colleagues from the Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University in France, your chances of an accurate guess stand somewhere near 96 percent.

In 2018, Miller et al. published a study in Nature, stating that humans have the uncanny ability to very closely approximate where one object, like a finger, comes into contact with another object being used as a tool, like the pen, as long as the tool is in direct contact with skin.

Related article:  Redefining the Neanderthal: Were they more sophisticated than we thought?

More recently, [Miller] et al. published another paper in Current Biology saying that our brains treat tools as extensions of our bodies.

This research could prove pivotal when it comes to improving the quality of prostheses and overall quality of life for those who need them.

Read full, original post: Why Our Sense of Touch Is a Marvel of the Animal Kingdom

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