Neural basis of haptic perception

  • Steven Hsiao
  • Jeffrey Yau


A major challenge in neuroscience is to understand the neural basis of behavior. The problem is multifaceted. First one must understand which afferent type(s) and cortical pathways are involved in the aspect of perception that you want to understand. Then one must understand how information is represented and coded in the neural responses. The earliest attempts at addressing the neural pathways underlying perception relied on lesion studies in which animals were trained to perform specific behavioral tasks and then were retested following the ablations. If the animal could not perform the task then the area that was ablated was deemed essential for the behavior. More recently researchers use functional imaging techniques to address these questions. Understanding the neural codes underlying behavior has been elusive. The intellectual breakthrough came from studies that combined psychophysical studies in humans with neurophysiological studies in monkeys [1, 2].


Receptive Field Muscle Spindle Neural Basis Proprioceptive Input Haptic Perception 
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Selected readings

  1. Haggard P (2006) Sensory neuroscience: from skin to object in the somatosensory cortex. Curr Biol 16: R884–R886PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Mountcastle VB (2005) The Sensory Hand. Neural Mechanisms in Somatic Sensation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Uni Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hsiao SS, Vega-Bermudez F (2002) Attention in the somatosensory system. In: RJ Nelson (ed): The Somatosensory System: Deciphering the Brain’s Own Body Image. 197–217. Boca Raton: CRC PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Johnson KO (2002) Neural basis of haptic perception. In: S Yantis (ed): Stevens Handbook of Experimental Psychology, 3rd Ed., Vol. 1. Sensation and Perception, 537–538. New York: WileyGoogle Scholar
  5. Johnson KO, Hsiao SS, Yoshioka T (2002) Neural coding and the basic law of psychophysics. Neuroscientist 8: 111–121PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Hsiao
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Yau
    • 1
  1. 1.Krieger Mind/Brain InstituteThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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