An inter-species computational analysis of vibrotactile sensitivity in Pacinian and Herbst corpuscles

Julia C. Quindlen-Hotek, Ellen T. Bloom, Olivia K. Johnston, Victor H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Vibration sensing is ubiquitous among vertebrates, with the sensory end organ generally being a multilayered ellipsoidal structure. There is, however, a wide range of sizes and structural arrangements across species. In this work, we applied our earlier computational model of the Pacinian corpuscle to predict the sensory response of different species to various stimulus frequencies, and based on the results, we identified the optimal frequency for vibration sensing and the bandwidth over which frequencies should be most detectable. We found that although the size and layering of the corpuscles were very different, almost all of the 19 species studied showed very similar sensitivity ranges. The human and goose were the notable exceptions, with their corpuscle tuned to higher frequencies (130-170 versus 40-50 Hz). We observed no correlation between animal size and any measure of corpuscle geometry in our model. Based on the results generated by our computational model, we hypothesize that lamellar corpuscles across different species may use different sizes and structures to achieve similar frequency detection bands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number191439
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Ethics. No human or animal subjects were used in this study. Data accessibility. Data has been uploaded as electronic supplementary material. Authors’ contribution. V.H.B. and J.C.Q.-H. conceived the study and analysed the data. E.T.B. and O.K.J. performed the literature search and made measurements. J.C.Q.-H. performed the computations. V.H.B. and J.C.Q.-H. did the primary writing of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript and agree to be held accountable for the work therein. Competing interests. The authors declare no competing interests. Funding. This work was supported by a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to J.C.Q.-H. Acknowledgements. This is not relevant to the work as everyone who has contributed to the study has met the authorship criteria.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Royal Society Publishing. All rights reserved.


  • Biomechanics
  • Computational modelling
  • Neuroscience
  • Touch


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