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Deconstructing the Sense of Touch

The sense of touch is the least understood of all our senses, yet is crucial our everyday lives. Imagine trying to walk around the room without being able to feel when you have made contact with the floor. To quantitatively characterize the sense of touch, we build micron-scale technology for mechanical stimulation, including cantilevers with integrated piezoresistive strain gauges and microfluidic traps, to study the nematode C. elegans as a model system. With our collaborators, we integrate our custom instrumentation with patch clamp electrophysiology and fluorescent calcium sensors to measure activation of touch neurons.