These descriptions represent projects that have been completed from which research results have been reported and presented in various publications. Click below each project summary to learn more details.

Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator

The Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS™) device delivers gentle and comfortable electrical stimulation to the top surface of the tongue. The PoNS device is used in conjunction with therapy exercises as part of TCNL's research program.
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Reducing Symptoms of Mulitple Sclerosis Using Cranial Nerve Non-Invasive Neuromodulation: a Randomized, Controlled Study 

This controlled study investigates the use of CN-NINM technologies in our first external controlled study to reduce symptoms of movement control disorders resulting from multiple sclerosis.
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Reducing Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis Using Non-Invasive Neuromodulation

This pilot project investigates the use of CN-NINM combined with conditioning exercises to reduce symptoms of movement control disorders resulting from multiple sclerosis.
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Cranial Nerve Non-Invasive Neuromodulation (CN-NINM)

We have completed an initial inquiry on how recovery from neurological diseases may be enhanced by using a new method of synchronized brain stimulation called cranial-nerve non-invasive neuromodulation. Combined with specialized physical therapy or mental exercises, CN-NIMM may aid functional recovery from neurological impairment that is caused by stroke, trauma, or neurodegenerative disease.
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Electrotactile Intensity and Quality (ETIQ)

This project uses psychophysical experiments to understand the relationship between the electrotactile stimulus and the resulting touch sensation. One component of the project is exploring how the perceived intensity or strength of the sensation is controlled by the stimulation current, voltage, electrode geometry, environmental conditions, skin condition. A second component is exploring how the perceived quality, "tactile color," is similarly affected. This information will help designers of tactile information displays for sensory substitution or neuromodulation to optimize their designs.
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Electrotactile display of computer graphics for blind (ET Haptic)

This project uses electrical stimulation of touch to display computer graphics to the fingertips of the user. The fingertips explore the electrode array dynamically and receive touch sensations in the same shapes as the objects on the computer screen. 
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A tactile glove for computer graphics for the blind

This project uses electrical stimulation of touch to display computer graphics to the fingertips of the user. The electrodes are attached to the hands and update their position based on the position of the hand on a computer monitor.
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An electrostatic haptic display for the visually impaired

This project uses electrostatic stimulation of the fingertips (static cling) to display computer graphics to the exploring fingertips. The tactile patterns are felt as a variable sensation of texture or vibration.
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Tongue Display Unit (TDU)

This project developed a general-purpose, programmable instrument for displaying spatial and time-varying patterns on the tongue using electrical stimulation of touch. This is the platform technology for sensory substitution and neuromodulation research using the tongue. The TDU is the basis for the BrainPort™ series of devices sold by Wicab, Inc.
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Electrotactile shape perception on the tongue (Shapes on tongue)

In this project we demonstrated, we believe for the first time, that humans tongue are capable of perceiving geometric shapes on their tongues. This work established proof of concept for electrotactile tongue information display.
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Tactile sensory substitution for robots to aid persons with quadriplegia (Quadbot)

This project developed a first prototype tactile feedback system for a tongue-controlled robot to assist persons with quadriplegia. We expect the tactile feedback to enhance the ease and speed with which users may manipulate objects using the robot. 
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Tactile vision substitution via the tongue (Tongue TVS)

This project developed a first prototype tactile vision system. A small hand- or head-controlled camera records the visual image, which is presented to the user's tongue. (Graphic variant of: Al Granberg, New York Times)
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Tactile vestibular substitution via the tongue (Balance SenSub)

This project developed a first prototype vestibular (balance) sensory substitution system. A small sensor records head tilt and displays this information to the tongue, which helps users recover balance function both during and after use.
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Mechanism of balance rehabilitation using neuromodulation, measured by fMRI (Balance fMRI)

This project examines brain activity responsible for recovery of balance, posture, and gait in vestibular-impaired persons, while using a system that delivers a neuromodulation stimulus to the brain through the tongue. Brain activity is measured using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). 
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Tactile Vision Sensory Substitution (TVSS)

This was the pivotal project for the future work of the TCNL. This project was proof of concept, showing that electrotactile vibration on the skin could substitute for vision.
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Our Research

Founded in 1992, the Tactile Com­mu­nication & Neurorehabilitation Laboratory (TCNL) is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We are a research center that uses the experience of many different areas of science to study the theory and application of applied neuro­plasticity, the brain’s ability to re­or­ganize in response to new informa­tion, needs, and pathways.

Our research is aimed at developing solutions for sensory and motor disorder rehabilitation.