Harriet Dempsey-Jones

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

My research looks at how we can enhance our sense of touch through repeated exposure and training, known in the field as ‘tactile perceptual learning’. I am interested in how we can use tactile learning patterns as a tool to reveal insights about the brain.

For instance, tactile learning spreads from a trained finger to other fingers that are interrelated in the primary somatosensory cortex. We can, therefore, use the pattern of spread to reveal complex neural relationships between fingers, deepening our understanding of the organising principles of sensory cortex.

While my learning research looks at the effect of increasing stimulation on perception (i.e. through training), I am also interested in the effect of removal of sensory input. In our group, we have been looking at what happens to the hand map when sensory input is removed e.g. through amputation, injury or intervention.

This research is exciting because it has clear applications to the design of future interventions to optimise normal human perception and enhance it in individuals with degraded perception.

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