The impact of systemic cortical alterations on perception Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Zhang, Zheng
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Perception is the process of transmitting and interpreting sensory information, and the primary somatosensory (SI) area in the human cortex is the main sensory receptive area for the sensation of touch. The elaborate neuroanatomical connectivity that subserves the neuronal communication between adjacent and near-adjacent regions within sensory cortex has been widely recognized to be essential to normal sensory function. As a result, systemic cortical alterations that impact the cortical regional interaction, as associated with many neurological disorders, are expected to have significant impact on sensory perception. Recently, our research group has developed a novel sensory diagnostic system that employs quantitative sensory testing methods and is able to non-invasively assess central nervous system healthy status. The intent of this study is to utilize quantitative sensory testing methods that were designed to generate discriminable perception to objectively and quantitatively assess the impacts of different conditions on human sensory information processing capacity. The correlation between human perceptions with observations from animal research enables a better understanding of the underlying neurophysiology of human perception. Additional findings on different subject populations provide valuable insight of the underlying mechanisms for the development and maintenance of different neurological diseases. During the course of the study, several protocols were designed and utilized. And this set of sensory-based perceptual metrics was employed to study the effects of different conditions (non-noxious thermal stimulation, chronic pain stage, and normal aging) on sensory perception. It was found that these conditions result in deviations of the subjects' tactile information processing capacities from normal values. Although the observed shift of sensory detection sensitivity could be a result of enhanced peripheral activity, the changes in the effects of adaptation most likely reflect changes in central nervous system. The findings in this work provide valuable information for better understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in the development and maintenance of different neurological conditions.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • " ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Biomedical Engineering."
  • Tommerdahl, Mark Allen
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

This work has no parents.