As humans, we use touch and sensation to feel, to communicate, to move, to explore the environment around us and to protect us from danger. What may seem like instinctive reactions are in fact the result of a highly complex interplay between our brain, nerves and touch receptors in our skin.

So what can we continue to learn about how these systems interact? What can we do when communication between these systems is disrupted through injury to the body or brain? And can artificial sensors and control algorithms for prosthesis and robotic manipulators be created to truly resemble the remarkable functionality of the human hand?

These are the questions that drive our sensory neurophysiology researchers, led by touch and sensation expert Dr Ingvars Birznieks. To answer them our researchers take a cross-disciplinary approach linking neuroscience, clinical neurology, and biomedical engineering.

Research focus areas

  • Sensory information encoding mechanisms
  • Sensation and bionics
  • Tactile receptors
  • Sensorimotor control
  • Artificial sensors
  • Haptic technologies
  • Prostheses and robotics
  • Sensation and stroke
  • Adaptation and aftereffects in perception of tactile motion
  • Restoring sensitivity in neuropathy
  • Mismatching of hand representation after stroke

Why this research matters

By understanding touch and sensation, and ultimately how it can be repaired after a traumatic event like a stroke, spinal cord injury or limb amputation, we strive to help the tens of thousands of Australians who are impacted by these events each year.