Touch and pain sensations are complementary aspects of daily life that convey crucial information about the environment while also providing protection to our body. Technological advancements in prosthesis design and control mechanisms assist amputees to regain lost function but often they have no meaningful tactile feedback or perception. In the present study, we propose a bio-inspired tactile system with a population of 23 digital afferents: 12 RA-I, 6 SA-I, and 5 nociceptors. Indeed, the functional concept of the nociceptor is implemented on the FPGA for the first time. One of the main features of biological tactile afferents is that their distal axon branches in the skin, creating complex receptive fields. Given these physiological observations, the bio-inspired afferents are randomly connected to the several neighboring mechanoreceptors with different weights to form their own receptive field. To test the performance of the proposed neuromorphic chip in sharpness detection, a robotic system with three-degree of freedom equipped with the tactile sensor indents the 3D-printed objects. Spike responses of the biomimetic afferents are then collected for analysis by rate and temporal coding algorithms. In this way, the impact of the innervation mechanism and collaboration of afferents and nociceptors on sharpness recognition are investigated. Our findings suggest that the synergy between sensory afferents and nociceptors conveys more information about tactile stimuli which in turn leads to the robustness of the proposed neuromorphic system against damage to the taxels or afferents. Moreover, it is illustrated that spiking activity of the biomimetic nociceptors is amplified as the sharpness increases which can be considered as a feedback mechanism for prosthesis protection. This neuromorphic approach advances the development of prosthesis to include the sensory feedback and to distinguish innocuous (non-painful) and noxious (painful) stimuli.

Sharpness recognition based on synergy between bio-inspired nociceptors and tactile mechanoreceptors

Amiri M.;Falotico E.;Laschi C.
2021

Abstract

Touch and pain sensations are complementary aspects of daily life that convey crucial information about the environment while also providing protection to our body. Technological advancements in prosthesis design and control mechanisms assist amputees to regain lost function but often they have no meaningful tactile feedback or perception. In the present study, we propose a bio-inspired tactile system with a population of 23 digital afferents: 12 RA-I, 6 SA-I, and 5 nociceptors. Indeed, the functional concept of the nociceptor is implemented on the FPGA for the first time. One of the main features of biological tactile afferents is that their distal axon branches in the skin, creating complex receptive fields. Given these physiological observations, the bio-inspired afferents are randomly connected to the several neighboring mechanoreceptors with different weights to form their own receptive field. To test the performance of the proposed neuromorphic chip in sharpness detection, a robotic system with three-degree of freedom equipped with the tactile sensor indents the 3D-printed objects. Spike responses of the biomimetic afferents are then collected for analysis by rate and temporal coding algorithms. In this way, the impact of the innervation mechanism and collaboration of afferents and nociceptors on sharpness recognition are investigated. Our findings suggest that the synergy between sensory afferents and nociceptors conveys more information about tactile stimuli which in turn leads to the robustness of the proposed neuromorphic system against damage to the taxels or afferents. Moreover, it is illustrated that spiking activity of the biomimetic nociceptors is amplified as the sharpness increases which can be considered as a feedback mechanism for prosthesis protection. This neuromorphic approach advances the development of prosthesis to include the sensory feedback and to distinguish innocuous (non-painful) and noxious (painful) stimuli.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11382/539936
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