Computational and Psychophysical Experiments on the Pacinian Corpuscle's Ability to Discriminate Complex Stimuli

Tiffany Louisa Senkow, Nicholas D. Theis, Julia C. Quindlen-Hotek, Victor H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Recognizing and discriminating vibrotactile stimuli is an essential function of the Pacinian corpuscle. This function has been studied at length in both a computational and an experimental setting, but the two approaches have rarely been compared, especially when the computational model has a high level of structural detail. In this paper, we explored whether the predictions of a multiscale, multiphysical computational model of the Pacinian corpuscle can predict the outcome of a corresponding psychophysical experiment. The discrimination test involved either two simple stimuli with frequency in the 160-500 Hz range, or two complex stimuli formed by combining the waveforms for a 100-Hz stimulus with a second stimulus in the 160-500 Hz range. The subjects' ability to distinguish between the simple stimuli increased as the frequency increased, a result consistent with the model predictions for the same stimuli. The model also predicted correctly that subjects would find the complex stimuli more difficult to distinguish than the simple ones and also that the discriminability of the complex stimuli would show no trend with frequency difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8674607
Pages (from-to)635-644
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received July 25, 2018; revised February 20, 2019; accepted March 1, 2019. Date of publication March 25, 2019; date of current version December 12, 2019. This paper was recommended for publication by Associate Editor V. Levesque upon evaluation of the reviewers’ comments. The work of J. C. Quindlen-Hotek was supported in part by the NSF Intergrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship in Systems Neuroengineering and in part by the University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. (Corresponding author: Tiffany Louisa Senkow.) The authors are with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA (e-mail:;;;

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 IEEE.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biomechanics
  • Pacinian corpuscle
  • perception and psychophysics
  • vibrotactile perception.

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