Task-Dependent Adaptations in Closed-Loop Motor Control Based on Electrotactile Feedback

Jakob L. Dideriksen, Irene Uriarte Mercader, Strahinja Dosen

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Humans systematically adapt their strategies for closed-loop control based on visual feedback according to the dynamics of the system. Tactile feedback is a key element in many human-machine interfaces, but it is not known if and how well human control adapts to changes in system dynamics when information about the system state is provided using this type of feedback. In this study, 11 participants tracked a pseudorandom trajectory with a virtual, position- or velocity-controlled plant using a joystick. Visual or electrotactile feedback provided the instantaneous error between the target and generated trajectory. Frequency-domain system identification indicated that human control adapted in similar ways to the different control modes (i.e., position/velocity control) for both feedback modalities. For the plant dynamics modeled as gain and integrator, the human controller behaved as a low-pass filter and gain, respectively (under the assumption of quasi-linear behavior). However, while tracking quality was largely similar for both control modes with visual feedback, velocity control enabled substantially worse control with electrotactile feedback compared to position control. Furthermore, for both control modes, the crossover frequency of open-loop transfer functions was lower for electrotactile feedback (0.9 and 1.1 rad/s) than for visual feedback (1.5 and 1.7 rad/s) indicating limited control bandwidth. To summarize, closed-loop control based on electrotactile feedback enables natural adaptations in human control strategy, which is encouraging for tactile feedback-controlled human-machine interfaces, but the lower control bandwidth and lower tracking quality with velocity control may impose functional limitations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1227-1235
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Closed-loop control sensory feedback
  • Electrodes
  • electrotactile stimulation
  • Phase change materials
  • Position control
  • position control
  • sensory substitution
  • Target tracking
  • Trajectory
  • Velocity control
  • velocity control
  • Visualization


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