The goal of this review is to start to consolidate and distill the substantial body of research that comprises the published work of the late Professor Steven S. Hsiao. The studies of Hsiao began by demonstrating the receptive field properties of somatosensory neurons, progressed to describing cortical feature selectivity, and then eventually elevated the field to hopes of tapping into natural neural codes with artificial somatosensory feedback. With ongoing analogies to contemporaneous studies in visual neuroscience, the research results and writings of Hsiao have provided the fields of haptics and somatosensory neurophysiology with the conceptual tools needed to allow profound progress. Specifically, Hsiao suggested that slowly adapting tactile form perception could be restored with cortical microstimulation, rapidly adapting slip reflexes should be relegated to low-level, hard-wired prosthetic components, and Pacinian-corpuscle spatiotemporal population responses could potentially be decoded/encoded to provide information about interactions of hands and hand-held instruments with external objects. Future studies will be guided by these insightful reports from Hsiao.
- Pacinian corpuscle