Hubert Dinse investigates learning through passive stimulation. Together with colleagues, he developed a stimulation glove for stroke patients.
Measuring the discrimination threshold: the value indicates how wide the distance between two tips has to be in order for them to be perceived as two discrete stimuli.
Skill tests: The aim is to put the cylindrical objects into the holes as quickly as possible.
The gold standard for acquiring new skills is: practice, practice, practice. Playing an instrument or reading braille on a regular basis improves both the motor skills and the sense of touch – because practicing results in changes within the brain. Those areas of the brain that represent the hand region enlarge through training. The RUB researchers have achieved the same effect through passive stimulation. As they repeatedly stimulated their subjects’ fingers using a specific temporal pattern, the respective cortical maps enlarged. At the same time, the sense of touch in the stimulated fingers improved.