Experimental Robotics

Volume 109 of the series Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics pp 89-103


Using Haptic fMRI to Enable Interactive Motor Neuroimaging Experiments

  • Samir MenonAffiliated withA.I. Lab, Stanford University Email author 
  • , Hari GantiAffiliated withA.I. Lab, Stanford University
  • , Oussama KhatibAffiliated withA.I. Lab, Stanford University

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Combining haptics with functional magnetic resonance imaging (Haptic fMRI) has enabled complex motor neuroimaging experiments that non-invasively map real-world motor tasks on to the human brain. The technique’s resolution, fidelity and susceptibility to scanning artifacts, however, have not yet been estimated in a quantitative manner. Here, we demonstrate that unconstrained three degree-of-freedom Haptic fMRI experiments can reliably activate brain regions involved in planning, motor control, haptic perception, and vision. We show that associated neural measurements are reliable, heterogeneous at the millimeter scale, and free from measurable artifacts, and that their anatomical localization is consistent with past neuroscience experiments. In addition, we demonstrate the feasibility of using electromagnetic actuation in Haptic fMRI interfaces to apply high fidelity open-loop three-axis haptic forces (0.5–2N; square or 0.1–65Hz sine waveforms) while maintaining negligible temporal noise in pre-motor, motor, somatosensory, and visual cortex (<1 % of signal). Our results show that Haptic fMRI is a robust and reliable technique for characterizing the human brain’s motor controller.


Haptic fMRI MRI-compatible robotics Motor control Neuroscience Neuroimaging