To understand neural responses such as pain and touch, it is necessary to apply and mimic tactile stimuli in a manner that is repeatable. Inevitable variability comes with the application of manual stimuli through the use of conventional von Frey hairs. Leading researchers in the field of nociception trust Aurora Scientific mechanical stimulators because they are versatile enough for use in a broad range of protocols and provide precise, reproducible results.
How an Animal’s Sensory System Responds to Pain and Other Tactile Stimuli
pain research, mechanical nociception, tactile discrimination, neural communication, vibrotactile stimuli
Customized 300C-I Facilitates Migraine Headache Research
In 2002 Dr. Dan Levy of Harvard University was studying the underlying mechanisms of migraine headaches and was looking for a method to reliably apply varying forces to sensory neurons innervating the dura mater of a rat.
Because these stimuli needed to be applied as a precise square wave, conventional, hand-held von Frey filaments could not be used. Additionally, these neurons were highly sensitive to applied pressure and limiting the area activated was a challenge.
A customized version of our Dual-Mode lever system, now the 300C-I mechanical stimulator, proved to be exactly what was required. Although our Dual-Mode lever system had been used by other researchers to apply mechanical stimuli in the past, Dr. Levy’s challenging samples required some customization. Teflon tips of specific diameters were manufactured in order to mechanically activate specific innervation sites within the dura mater. Additionally, to address the pressure sensitivity of these neurons, a customized lever arm for the instrument was built to push the boundaries of the forces that could be applied.
The mechanical stimulator has been an integral part of Dr. Levy’s lab for over a decade. It has helped him extensively publish his findings about numerous types of headaches and explore several mechanisms and pathways which may underlie chronic and acute migraines. Dr. Levy continues to investigate potential treatment options targeting these pathways, which may lead to helping those who suffer.
300C-I – Mechanical Stimulation of Rat Skin
In 1998 Dr. Woodbury approached us with a need to perform mechanical stimulation of rat skin stretched in a recording chamber. He needed a computer controlled mechanical stimulator that could produce controlled five second square waves of varying forces through a cylindrical indenter tip.
The design of the recording chamber meant that the mechanical stimulator had to be located above and to the side of the skin preparation.
Aurora Scientific knew that a 300C Dual-Mode muscle lever would be able to provide the mechanical stimulation required while also allowing Dr. Woodbury to record both indentation distance and force. However, the location of the 300C motor meant that our normal lever arm could not be used to apply the desired forces. Therefore, an indenter arm was developed which had a vertical shaft attached to it to allow for versatile placement. Reduction of arm inertia became important due to issues which arose while tuning the 300C and after several attempts, an arm design and appropriate tuning settings were determined.
A 300C-I mechanical stimulator was provided to Dr. Woodbury which delivered stable and precise stimulation of his tissue preparation. The custom designed indenter arm allowed him to position the motor above and to the side of his recording chamber to properly stimulate the stretched rat skin. Dr. Woodbury has used the 300C-I in his the lab for numerous impactful studies of nociceptive and thermoreceptive systems.