Conference paper

Active Mechatronic Interface for Haptic Perception Studies with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Compatibility and Design Criteria

Functional brain exploration methodologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are critical tools to study perceptual and cognitive processes. In order to develop complex and well-controlled fMRI paradigms, researchers are interested in using active interfaces with electrically powered actuators and sensors. Due to the particularity of the MR environment, safety and compatibility criteria have to be strictly followed to avoid risks to the subject under test, the operators or the environment, as well as to prevent artifacts in the images. This paper describes the design of an fMRI compatible mechatronic interface based on MR compatibility tests of materials and actuators. In particular, a statistical test is introduced to evaluate the presence of artifacts in the image sequences that could negatively affect the fMRI studies. The device with two degrees of freedom, allowing one translation with position-feedback along a horizontal axis and one rotation about a vertical axis linked to the translation, was realized to investigate the brain mechanisms of dynamic tactile perception tasks. It can be used to move and orient various objects below the finger for controlled tactile stimulation. The MR compatibility of the complete interface is shown using the statistical test as well as a functional study with a human subject.


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