A team of scientists from the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna coordinated by Silvestro Micera has been awarded the international Misha Mahowald 2021 prize. The award, dedicated to one of the pioneers of neuromorphic engineering, goes annually to studies that have had an influential impact in the scientific community and have helped people with disabilities to improve their sensory and motor interaction with the world. The study published in Neuron from the scientific collaboration between The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Freiburg and the Policlinico Gemelli of Rome, developed sophisticated approaches to control the optimal combination of naturalness and sensitivity of the tactile feedback that can be achieved with ‘‘hybrid’’ encoding strategies based on simultaneous biomimetic frequency and amplitude neuro-modulation. These strategies improved the manual dexterity during functional task while maintaining high levels of manual accuracy. They also improved prosthesis embodiment, reducing abnormal phantom limb perceptions (‘‘telescoping effect’’).
"This award - declares Silvestro Micera - is a recognition of the quality of our research activities in neuroengineering for the realization of systems with important clinical applications but at the same time with a strong scientific background".
A new approach to provide more natural tactile information
With more than 100 citations on Scopus and 130 on Google Scholar in three years, The study "Biomimetic Intraneural Sensory Feedback Enhances Sensation Naturalness, Tactile Sensitivity, and Manual Dexterity in a Bidirectional Prosthesis" has had a central impact in the field of neuroengineering and artificial prostheses. The group coordinated by Silvestro Micera has opened new scenarios in the research on artificial prostheses through an interdisciplinary approach, which integrates practices derived from neuroengineering, clinical neurology and robotics.
The other authors from Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna who participated in the study are Giacomo Valle (first author of the study), Alberto Mazzoni, Christian Cipriani, Marco Controzzi.