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Esther P. Gardner

Esther P. Gardner, PhD

Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology

sensory functions of the hand, systems, cognitive, & computational neuroscience

Our goal is to understand the basic neural and perceptual mechanisms underlying the human and simian ability to recognize and manipulate objects with the sense of touch. To correlate neurophysiological activity with hand movements, we use state-of-the-art computer-data-acquisition techniques, including digital video. Current projects include: 1) coding of motion and its direction across the skin; 2) neural representation of dot arrays forming textured surfaces; 3) cortical analysis of the size and shape of hand-grasped objects; and 4) spatial organization of receptive fields of cortical neurons receiving inputs from different classes of cutaneous mechanoreceptors.

We found that cortical processing involves feature extraction through convergent central organization of functional neuronal assemblies. These modules represent specific skin regions, such as individual fingers, the tips of several adjacent fingers, or fingers and palmar skin. However, individual neurons within a module respond to particular features, such as direction of motion or posture of hand. Neuronal-response quantification may reveal how parallel processing of sensory information in adjacent cortical modules helps distinguish object size, shape, and texture. Elucidation of such neural networks in the brain provides a basic architecture for object recognition in the sense of touch. Such findings are useful for developing intelligent hands with tactile sensors for prosthetic devices or robotics. They also have important clinical applications, for instance, creating quantitative sensory-function tests in patients with neurological disorders or peripheral nerve injuries, or in sensory substitution aids for visually and/or hearing-impaired individuals.



Academic office

550 First Avenue

Fourth Floor

New York, NY 10016

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These focus areas and their associated publications are derived from medical subject headings from PubMed.
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PhD from New York University

Gardner, Esther P; Putrino, David F; Chen Van Daele, Jessie

Journal of neurophysiology. 2022 Apr 01; 127(4):1007-1025

Tymms, Chelsea; Gardner, Esther P.; Zorin, Denis

ACM transactions on graphics. 2018 NOV; 37:?-?

Tymms, Chelsea; Zorin, Denis; Gardner, Esther P

Journal of neurophysiology. 2018 Mar 01; 119(3):862-876

Gardner, Esther P

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 2017 04 18; 114(16):4048-4050

Bilaloglu, Seda; Lu, Ying; Geller, Daniel; Rizzo, John-Ross; Aluru, Viswanath; Gardner, Esther P; Raghavan, Preeti

Journal of neurophysiology. 2016 Mar; 115(3):1122-31jn.00639.2015

Gardner, EP

The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference. (2525952)

Chen, Jessie; Reitzen, Shari D; Kohlenstein, Jane B; Gardner, Esther P

Journal of neurophysiology. 2009 Dec; 102(6):3310-28

Goldberg, David H; Victor, Jonathan D; Gardner, Esther P; Gardner, Daniel

Neuroinformatics. 2009 Sep; 7(3):165-78