Back to Results

< Previous   Next >

A quantitative method for determining spatial discriminative capacity

Creators: Zhang, Zheng, Tannan, Vinay, Holden, Jameson K, Dennis, Robert G, Tommerdahl, Mark

File Type: pdf | Filesize: 1.7 MB | Date Added: 2012-08-24 | Date Created: 2008-03-10

Abstract Background The traditional two-point discrimination (TPD) test, a widely used tactile spatial acuity measure, has been criticized as being imprecise because it is based on subjective criteria and involves a number of non-spatial cues. The results of a recent study showed that as two stimuli were delivered simultaneously, vibrotactile amplitude discrimination became worse when the two stimuli were positioned relatively close together and was significantly degraded when the probes were within a subject's two-point limen. The impairment of amplitude discrimination with decreasing inter-probe distance suggested that the metric of amplitude discrimination could possibly provide a means of objective and quantitative measurement of spatial discrimination capacity. Methods A two alternative forced-choice (2AFC) tracking procedure was used to assess a subject's ability to discriminate the amplitude difference between two stimuli positioned at near-adjacent skin sites. Two 25 Hz flutter stimuli, identical except for a constant difference in amplitude, were delivered simultaneously to the hand dorsum. The stimuli were initially spaced 30 mm apart, and the inter-stimulus distance was modified on a trial-by-trial basis based on the subject's performance of discriminating the stimulus with higher intensity. The experiment was repeated via sequential, rather than simultaneous, delivery of the same vibrotactile stimuli. Results Results obtained from this study showed that the performance of the amplitude discrimination task was significantly degraded when the stimuli were delivered simultaneously and were near a subject's two-point limen. In contrast, subjects were able to correctly discriminate between the amplitudes of the two stimuli when they were sequentially delivered at all inter-probe distances (including those within the two-point limen), and improved when an adapting stimulus was delivered prior to simultaneously delivered stimuli. Conclusion Subjects' capacity to discriminate the amplitude difference between two vibrotactile stimulations was degraded as the inter-stimulus distance approached the limit of their two-point spatial discriminative capacity. This degradation of spatial discriminative capacity lessened when an adapting stimulus was used. Performance of the task, as well as improvement on the task with adaptation, would most likely be impaired if the cortical information processing capacity of a subject or subject population were systemically altered, and thus, the methods described could be effective measures for use in clinical or clinical research applications.