Somatosensory & Motor Research

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The purpose of this lab was to determine which regions of the body have the most touch receptors and in turn which regions of the body have the greatest representation on the somatosensory cortex map. The somatosensory cortex map is located in the parietal lobe and processes tactile information (D. Purves, Augustine, & Fitzpatrick, 2001). According to Neuroscience 2nd edition, the increased representation of specific body areas in somatosensory cortex map is a function of evolution (D. Purves, Augustine, & Fitzpatrick, 2001). To determine the regions of the body with the greatest representation on the somatosensory cortex map a two point discrimination test was selected. This test has been used to measure tactile spatial acuity
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Given this correlation a two point discrimination test similar to the one conducted in this lab could be used as a quantitative measure of the dexterity in older subjects. A study by Joseph C. Stevens and Kenneth K. Choo found that tactile spatial acuity is reduced through age and “may adversely affect such diverse activities as braille reading, grasping, and maintaining balance” (1996). Tactile spatial acuity has become important in the design of technology with haptic feedback (J. B. V. Erp, 2002). For a person to be able perceive haptic feedback on a phone two or more discernible stimuli must be felt (J. B. V. Erp, 2002). Therefore, a two point differentiation test could be useful for companies designing Vibro-Tactile Displays, allowing all users to be able to access the full function of the…show more content…
In order to do this a hypothesis was created and was as follows: It was hypothesized that the finger tips would have the greatest representation on the somatosensory cortex map compared to other areas of the body because humans have evolved to preform precision tasks with the hands (Marzke, 1997). This hypothesis was proven to be correct because for subject one, the four highest values recorded were finger tips. The fifth value recorded for subject one was a tie between the tip of the thumb and the palm of the hand. On subject two, the three highest values recorded were: the tip of the index finger, the tip of the thumb, and the nose. The following values were the fourth finger and then a tie between the fifth finger and the palm of the hand. This data demonstrates that humans have evolved to have fingers capable of preforming detailed tasks. This lab re-enforces the results of other studies (D. Purves, Augustine, & Fitzpatrick, 2001). Outside of the fingers, the only area of the body that stood out in the data set for both subjects was the palm of the hand. Additionally, the nose of subject two had a high reciprocal, however, the nose of subject one did not. This data makes a followup study on the effects of aging on tactile spatial acuity significantly easier and would provide more applicable conclusions. The ranging percent differences
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