Research Projects

Engineering sensory percepts through patterned sub/intra-cortical microstimulation 



Sub/intra-cortical microstimulation is essential for delivering sensory feedback in neural prosthetic applications. However, it has been shown that micro-stimulation evokes wide spread downstream neuronal activation, losing its specificity. We are developing different stimulation strategies to shape downstream neural activity, with the goal being to increase the specificity of micro-stimulation.



Related Publications:

Qi Wang, Daniel Millard, He Zheng, & Garrett Stanley (2012). Voltage Sensitive Dye Imaging Reveals Improved Topographic Activation of Cortex in Response to Manipulation of Thalamic Microstimulation Parameters. Journal of Neural Engineering, 9:026008.

Daniel Millard, Qi Wang, Clare Gollnick, and Garrett Stanley, System identification of the nonlinear dynamics in the thalamocortical circuit in response to patterned thalamic microstimulation in-vivo. Journal of Neural Engineering, 10(6):066011, 2013.

Daniel Millard, Qi Wang, and Garrett Stanley, 2011, Nonlinear System Identification of the Thalamocortical Circuit in Response to Thalamic Microstimulation, Proc. 5th International IEEE EMBS Neural Engineering Conference, pp.1-4.



Neural coding in the somatosensory (touch) pathway



We are interested in neural basis of the sense of touch, especially how information related to touch is encoded in various brain structures within the somatosensory pathway of the brain. External stimuli cause mechnoreceptors embedded in the skin to fire discrete electrical impulses (spikes, or action potentials). These spikes then propogate to the primary somatosensory cortex through various stages within this pathway, ultimately forming the substrate for tactile sensations. How the features of tactile stimuli are represented in the thalamus and cortex (neural coding)? On the other hand, from the prospective of the brain, what the brain sees is the distributed spike trains. How does the brain extract information about external stimuli from spike trains (reading a neural code or neural decoding)?


Related Publications:

Qi Wang, Roxanna Webber, and Garrett Stanley (2010). Thalamic Synchrony and the Adaptive Gating of Information Flow to Cortex, Nature Neuroscience, 13(12): 1534 - 1541. 

Douglas Ollerenshaw, He Zheng, Daniel Millard, Qi Wang, and Garrett Stanley, The Adaptive Trade-off between detection and discrimination in cortical representations and behavior. Neuron, 81(5): 1152–1164, 2014 (Featured as Cover story)

Garrett Stanley, Jianzhong Jin, Yushi Wang, Gaelle Desbordes, Qi Wang, Michael Black, and Jose-Manuel Alonso, Visual Orientation and Directional Selectivity Through Thalamic Synchrony, Journal of Neuroscience, 32(26): 9073-9088, 2012.

Douglas Ollerenshaw, Bilal Bari, Daniel Millard, Lauren Orr, Qi Wang, and Garrett Stanley, Detection of Tactile Inputs in the Rat Vibrissa Pathway, Journal of Neurophysiology, 108(2): 479-90, 2012.



Probe tactile processing using a custom made tactile simulator array 



The sense of touch is crucial for humans to explore and manipulate the external world. For instance, when an individual touches an object, forces are imposed on the skin, causing a complicated pattern of skin deformation. The deformation as well as the posture and motion of various limb segments are conveyed to the brain, forming the perception of the properties of the object, such as shape and stiffness. We have developed a high performance, portable tatile stimulator array to probe sensory processing in the brain. Using the tactile stimulator array, we have discovered complex interplay between tactile and visual processing (see Report by MIT Tech Talk (pg. 5)). We are also using the device, in concert with non-invasive neuroimaging techniques, to probe abnormal perceptual processing in diseased brain.

Related Publications:

Qi Wang and Vincent Hayward (2010). Biomechanically Optimized Distributed Tactile Transducer Based on Lateral Skin Deformation, International Journal of Robotics Research, 29(4):323-335.

Talia Konkle, Qi Wang, Vincent Hayward and Christopher I. Moore, 2009, Motion aftereffects transfer between touch and vision, Current Biology, 19(9):745-750. 



Olivia Carter, Talia Konkle, Qi Wang, Vincent Hayward, Christopher I. Moore, 2008, Tactile Rivalry Demonstrated with an Ambiguous Apparent-Motion Quartet. Current Biology, 18(4):1050-1054. 

Qi Wang and Vincent Hayward, 2008, Tactile Synthesis and Perceptual Inverse Problems Seen from the View Point of Contact Mechanics, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, 5(2):1-19.

J. Pasquero, J. Luk, V. Levesque, Qi Wang, V. Hayward, and K. E. MacLean, 2007, Haptically Enabled Handheld Information Display with Distributed Tactile Transducer. IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, 9(4):746-753.

Qi Wang, Vincent Levesque, Jerome Pasquero, and Vincent Hayward, 2006, A Haptic Memory Game using the STReSS2 Tactile Display, Proc. of the 2006 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2006. pp. 271-274. 

Qi Wang and Vincent Hayward, 2006, Compact, Portable, Modular, High-performance Distributed Tactile Display Device Based on Lateral Skin Deformation, Proc. 14th IEEE Symposium on Haptic Interfaces For Virtual Environment And Tele-operator Systems, IEEE VR 2006, pp. 67-72. (Best Paper Award)

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