Morphological Neural Computation Restores Discrimination of Naturalistic Textures in Trans-radial Amputees

A. Mazzoni, C.M. Oddo, G. Valle, D. Camboni, I. Strauss, M. Barbaro, G. Barabino, R. Puddu, C. Carboni, L. Bisoni, J. Carpaneto, F. Vecchio, F.M. Petrini, S. Romeni, T. Czimmermann, L. Massari, R. di Iorio, F. Miraglia, G. Granata, D. PaniT. Stieglitz, L. Raffo, P.M. Rossini, S. Micera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans rely on their sense of touch to interact with the environment. Thus, restoring lost tactile sensory capabilities in amputees would advance their quality of life. In particular, texture discrimination is an important component for the interaction with the environment, but its restoration in amputees has been so far limited to simplified gratings. Here we show that naturalistic textures can be discriminated by trans-radial amputees using intraneural peripheral stimulation and tactile sensors located close to the outer layer of the artificial skin. These sensors exploit the morphological neural computation (MNC) approach, i.e., the embodiment of neural computational functions into the physical structure of the device, encoding normal and shear stress to guarantee a faithful neural temporal representation of stimulus spatial structure. Two trans-radial amputees successfully discriminated naturalistic textures via the MNC-based tactile feedback. The results also allowed to shed light on the relevance of spike temporal encoding in the mechanisms used to discriminate naturalistic textures. Our findings pave the way to the development of more natural bionic limbs.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


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