Neural correlates of thermal stimulation during active touch

Wanjoo Park, Georgios Korres, Muhammad Hassan Jamil, Mohamad Eid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Thermal feedback technologies have been explored in human-computer interaction to provide secondary information and enhance the overall user experience. Unlike fast-response haptic modalities such as vibration and force feedback, the human brain's processes associated with thermal feedback are not fully understood. Methods: In this study, we utilize electroencephalography (EEG) brain imaging to systematically examine the neural correlates associated with a wide range of thermal stimuli, including 9, 15, 32, and 42°C, during active touch at the fingertip. A custom experimental setup is developed to provide thermal stimulation at the desirable temperature levels. A total of 30 participants are recruited to experience the four levels of thermal stimulation by actively touching a thermal stimulation unit with the index finger while recording brain activities via EEG. Time-frequency analysis and power spectral density (PSD) of the EEG data are utilized to analyze the delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma frequency bands. Results: The results show that the delta, theta, and alpha PSDs of 9 and 15°C stimuli are significantly higher than the PSDs of 32 and 42°C in the right frontal area during the early stage of the stimulation, from 282 ms up to 1,108 ms (One-way ANOVA test, Holm-Bonferroni correction, p < 0.05). No significant differences in PSDs are found between 9 and 15°C thermal stimuli or between 32 and 42°C thermal stimuli. Discussion: The findings of this study inform the development of thermal feedback system in human-computer interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1320417
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023


  • EEG response
  • active touch
  • human-computer interaction
  • power spectral density
  • thermal sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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