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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perceived intensity of somatosensory cortical electrical stimulation

  • Author(s): Fridman, Gene Y.
  • Blair, Hugh T.
  • Blaisdell, Aaron P.
  • Judy, Jack W.
  • et al.

Artificial sensations can be produced by direct brain stimulation of sensory areas through implanted microelectrodes, but the perceptual psychophysics of such artificial sensations are not well understood. Based on prior work in cortical stimulation, we hypothesized that perceived intensity of electrical stimulation may be explained by the population response of the neurons affected by the stimulus train. To explore this hypothesis, we modeled perceived intensity of a stimulation pulse train with a leaky neural integrator. We then conducted a series of two-alternative forced choice behavioral experiments in which we systematically tested the ability of rats to discriminate frequency, amplitude, and duration of electrical pulse trains delivered to the whisker barrel somatosensory cortex. We found that the model was able to predict the performance of the animals, supporting the notion that perceived intensity can be largely accounted for by spatiotemporal integration of the action potentials evoked by the stimulus train.

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