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.
Blocking tactile input to one finger using anaesthetic enhances touch perception and learning in other fingers.
Dempsey-Jones H. et al, (2019), J Exp Psychol Gen, 148, 713 - 727
Handedness modulates proprioceptive drift in the rubber hand illusion.
Dempsey-Jones H. and Kritikos A., (2018), Exp Brain Res
Enhanced integration of multisensory body information by proximity to "habitual action space".
Dempsey-Jones H. and Kritikos A., (2017), J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform, 43, 770 - 782
Transfer of tactile perceptual learning to untrained neighboring fingers reflects natural use relationships.
Dempsey-Jones H. et al, (2016), J Neurophysiol, 115, 1088 - 1097
Higher-order cognitive factors affect subjective but not proprioceptive aspects of self-representation in the rubber hand illusion.
Dempsey-Jones H. and Kritikos A., (2014), Conscious Cogn, 26, 74 - 89