Dynamic peripheral nerve stimulation can produce cortical activation similar to punctate mechanical stimuli

Justin Tanner, Edward Keefer, Jonathan Cheng, Stephen Helms Tillery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During contact, phasic and tonic responses provide feedback that is used for task performance and perceptual processes. These disparate temporal dynamics are carried in peripheral nerves, and produce overlapping signals in cortex. Using longitudinal intrafascicular electrodes inserted into the median nerve of a nonhuman primate, we delivered composite stimulation consisting of onset and release bursts to capture rapidly adapting responses and sustained stochastic stimulation to capture the ongoing response of slowly adapting receptors. To measure the stimulation’s effectiveness in producing natural responses, we monitored the local field potential in somatosensory cortex. We compared the cortical responses to peripheral nerve stimulation and vibrotactile/punctate stimulation of the fingertip, with particular focus on gamma band (30–65 Hz) responses. We found that vibrotactile stimulation produces consistently phase locked gamma throughout the duration of the stimulation. By contrast, punctate stimulation responses were phase locked at the onset and release of stimulation, but activity maintained through the stimulation was not phase locked. Using these responses as guideposts for assessing the response to the peripheral nerve stimulation, we found that constant frequency stimulation produced continual phase locking, whereas composite stimulation produced gamma enhancement throughout the stimulus, phase locked only at the onset and release of the stimulus. We describe this response as an “Appropriate Response in the gamma band” (ARγ), a trend seen in other sensory systems. Our demonstration is the first shown for intracortical somatosensory local field potentials. We argue that this stimulation paradigm produces a more biomimetic response in somatosensory cortex and is more likely to produce naturalistic sensations for readily usable neuroprosthetic feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1083307
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • biomimetic stimulation
  • gamma
  • perception
  • peripheral nerve stimulation
  • somatosensory feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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