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<i>Objective</i>: Previous studies suggest that somatosensory feedback has the potential to improve the functional performance of prostheses, reduce phantom pain, and enhance embodiment of sensory-enabled prosthetic devices. To maximize such benefits for amputees, the temporal properties of the sensory feedback must resemble those of natural somatosensation in an intact limb. <i>Approach</i>: To better understand temporal perception of artificial sensation, we characterized the perception of visuotactile synchrony for tactile perception restored via peripheral nerve stimulation. We electrically activated nerves in the residual limbs of two trans-tibial amputees and two trans-radial amputees via non-penetrating nerve cuff electrodes, which elicited sensations referred to the missing limbs. <i>Main results</i>: Our findings suggest that with respect to vision, stimulation-induced sensation has a "point of subjective simultaneity" (processing time) and "just noticeable difference" (temporal sensitivity) that are similar to natural touch. The just noticeable difference was not significantly different between the participants with upper- and lower-limb amputations. However, the point of subjective simultaneity indicated that sensations evoked in the missing leg must occur significantly earlier than those in the hand to be perceived as maximally synchronous with vision. Furthermore, we examined visuotactile synchrony in the context of a functional task during which stimulation was triggered by pressure applied to the prosthesis. Stimulation-induced sensation could be delayed up to 111<u>+</u>62 ms without the delay being reliably detected. <i>Significance</i>: The quantitative temporal properties of stimulation-induced perception were previously unknown and will contribute to design specifications for future sensory neuroprostheses.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of neural engineering
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