Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.

Subscribe

Logo for

Science 323 (5920): 1503-1506

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The Role of Fingerprints in the Coding of Tactile Information Probed with a Biomimetic Sensor

J. Scheibert,* S. Leurent, A. Prevost,{dagger} G. Debrégeas{ddagger}

Abstract: In humans, the tactile perception of fine textures (spatial scale <200 micrometers) is mediated by skin vibrations generated as the finger scans the surface. To establish the relationship between texture characteristics and subcutaneous vibrations, a biomimetic tactile sensor has been designed whose dimensions match those of the fingertip. When the sensor surface is patterned with parallel ridges mimicking the fingerprints, the spectrum of vibrations elicited by randomly textured substrates is dominated by one frequency set by the ratio of the scanning speed to the interridge distance. For human touch, this frequency falls within the optimal range of sensitivity of Pacinian afferents, which mediate the coding of fine textures. Thus, fingerprints may perform spectral selection and amplification of tactile information that facilitate its processing by specific mechanoreceptors.

Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure, CNRS UMR 8550, Associé aux Universités Paris 6 et Paris 7, 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.

* Present address: Physics of Geological Processes, University of Oslo, Post Office Box 1048 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway.

{dagger} Present address: Laboratoire de Physique Théorique, 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.

{ddagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: georges.debregeas{at}lps.ens.fr.


THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CITED BY OTHER ARTICLES:
Design of a tribometer for investigating tactile perception.
F. Massi, E. Vittecoq, E. Chatelet, A. Saulot, and Y. Berthier (2014)
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology
   Abstract »    PDF »
Vibrotactile Discrimination in the Rat Whisker System is Based on Neuronal Coding of Instantaneous Kinematic Cues.
C. Waiblinger, D. Brugger, and C. Schwarz (2013)
Cereb Cortex
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Spatial and temporal codes mediate the tactile perception of natural textures.
A. I. Weber, H. P. Saal, J. D. Lieber, J.-W. Cheng, L. R. Manfredi, J. F. Dammann III, and S. J. Bensmaia (2013)
PNAS 110, 17107-17112
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Review series: The cell biology of touch.
E. A. Lumpkin, K. L. Marshall, and A. M. Nelson (2010)
J. Cell Biol. 191, 237-248
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »
Probing With and Into Fingerprints.
R. S. Dahiya and M. Gori (2010)
J Neurophysiol 104, 1-3
   Abstract »    Full Text »    PDF »

To Advertise     Find Products


Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882