Characterization of sex-based differences in the mechanical properties of human finger glabrous tissue using a fiberoptic sensor

Lalit Venkatesan, Steven M. Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


TAC-Cell is a custom-built somatosensory stimulator that delivers pneumatic cutaneous tactile inputs to virtually any skin target on the body and by virtue of its non-ferrous materials is compatible with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain scanners. In this study, we describe the method to measure apparent skin displacement induced by TAC-Cell stimulation of the glabrous surface of the distal phalanx of the index finger. Specifically, we studied the effect of four servo controller input voltages (0.4 V-1.0 V) on resultant skin displacement among eighteen, neurotypical adult male and female participants. A fiberoptic displacement sensor, commonly used in industrial applications, was coupled to the TAC-Cell to measure the glabrous skin's kinematic response to different stimulus amplitudes. Skin displacement was significantly dependent on stimulus amplitudes and sex (p<0.0001). Power spectrum and kinematic analysis of skin displacement showed that the pneumatic TAC-Cell stimulus consists of a spectrally rich, high velocity signal. In related work, we have shown that this dynamic pneumocutaneous stimulus is highly effective in evoking a cortical brain response for neurodiagnostic applications and somatosensory pathway analysis in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2257-2262
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 18 2014



  • Glabrous skin
  • Human
  • Pneumatic
  • Somatosensory
  • Stimulation
  • Tactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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