Janet M. Weisenberger
Speech and Hear. Sci., Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH 43210
New developments in a number of research areas have led to significant advances in bioresponse to vibration and ultrasound. The present paper will focus on work in three of these areas. First, a number of researchers have investigated changes in functioning of tactile mechanoreceptors as a function of the aging process. This work has come from a variety of approaches, including physiological measurements, psychophysical studies, and perceptual experiments. The convergence of these areas of study has led to a substantial increase in our understanding of the effects of aging in the tactile system. Second, recent technological advances in the development of tactile displays for basic science and virtual sensing applications have led to the construction of displays that permit the presentation of stimuli for differential stimulation of mechanoreceptive populations and investigation of spatial resolution abilities. Other displays have been designed to provide feedback about object shape, contact force, and surface texture for operators in telerobotics and virtual environments. These displays attempt to provide a veridical experience for the operator, and current research focuses on determining optimal strategies for encoding stimulus parameters. Finally, recent work in biological response to ultrasound has yielded exciting progress in lithotripsy, the destruction of kidney stones via ultrasonic radiation, in hyperthermic applications of ultrasound, and in the development of medical criteria for appropriate administration of ultrasound in medical applications.