Human Touch

DFG BA 8281/1

The field of vision research has advanced significantly through the use of biologically inspired coding models, particularly in understanding population receptive fields (pRFs). These pRFs, modeled from extensive fMRI data, provide detailed insights into the position, size, shape, and structure of receptive fields, enabling a thorough analysis of variations between conditions, populations, or brain areas.
Despite challenges in systematically stimulating the skin, research in both monkeys and humans has revealed small and reliable body maps in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). These maps can be influenced by attention and even triggered by observing touch which underscores their cognitive importance. As a result, population receptive field modeling emerges as the preferred method for investigating how tactile information is represented in different body areas of the primary somatosensory cortex (S1). This understanding is crucial for decoding the neural mechanisms underlying human tactile perception, which include aspects such as location, distance, size, shape, texture of whole objects.
In a collaborative three-year project with Esther Kühn, we will leverage novel stimulation devices and sub-millimeter fMRI measurements at 9.4 T for 2D pRF modeling. Our research aims to unravel the properties of 2D pRFs on the fingers in human S1, explore variations in 2D pRF properties between fingers, palm, and forearm, and investigate the potential of using 2D pRFs to decode sensory perceptions. Additionally, we will develop a new toolbox, 'SamSrf-Touch,' building upon the existing 'SamSrf' toolbox created by Prof. Dr. Sam Schwarzkopf, to facilitate broader scientific exploration of the fine-grained architecture of human tactile maps through controlled analysis routines.


Esther Kühn. Hertie Instiute for clinical brain research. University of Tübingen.

Jonas Bause. Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany

Go to Editor View