How many neurons make a feeling?


The Dutch and German study, published in Nature, found that stimulating just one rat neuron could deliver the sensation of touch.

“The generally accepted model was that networks or arrays make decisions and that the influence of a single neuron is smaller, but this work and other recent studies support a more important role for the individual neuron.

“These studies drive down the level at which relevant computation is happening in the brain.”

I think it also supports the idea (discussed in detail in my thesis) that the word “touch” serves as a baseline indicator for subjective experience.

Immersion's mobile haptics demo

A short demonstration of Immersion Corporation’s vibrotactile feedback system for touch screens:

The interviewer calls it a “genuinely remarkable technology.” My job right now is to develop vibrotactile applications for the phone in the video, so it makes me happy to see that this kind of thing is generating excitement!

Third party haptic keyboard for iPhone

A downloadable haptic keyboard for the iPhone.

Totally missing the point, Gizmodo asks, “Does anyone care?”, noting that users are already accustomed to the iPhone’s non-tactile keyboard, and that this particular haptic keyboard is buggy. Whatever; research clearly indicates that vibrotactile feedback for surface keyboards enhances interaction. Kudos to these folks at the University of Glasgow for beginning an open project on a popular platform to develop this much-needed software.