Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Massimiliano Pierobon

Date of this Version



N. Hanisch, “Exploring the Telecommunications Properties of the Human Nervous System: Analytical Modeling and Experimental Validation of Information Flow through the Somatosensory System,” M.S. thesis, Dept. of Comp. Sci. and Eng., Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 2017.

Copyright (c) 2017 Natalie Hanisch


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Massimiliano Pierobon. Lincoln, Nebraska : August, 2017


The growing field of Body Area Networks (BANs) is providing solutions to the wireless connectivity of wearable and implantable devices with applications in medicine, entertainment, fitness, and military, amongst others. While electromagnetic wave propagation has been the main BANs' enabling technology, the increasingly pervasive nature of these devices encourages novel solutions with added bio-compatibility and sustainability. In this thesis, a novel communication system is proposed for BANs based on the natural propagation of tactile stimuli through the nervous system. This system is composed of a tactile stimulator coupled to an ElectroEncephaloGraphy (EEG) system, and realizes the propagation of somatosensory signals from the index finger to the brain cortex. The feasibility of the proposed system is investigated through an experimental testbed, while an analytical modeling framework that captures the main processes at the basis of the proposed communication system is obtained by coupling computational models of somatosensory receptive fields with mathematical expressions of the cortical dynamics. Experimental results are then used to validate the ability of the proposed models to serve as fundamental tools for the design of systems based on tactile information transmission. In addition, digital modulation schemes, i.e., On-Off Keying (OOK) and Differential Pulse Position Modulation (DPPM), are evaluated as potential strategies to transmit information through the proposed system. These preliminary contributions stand as proof-of-concept for the engineering of nervous-system-enabled BANs.

Adviser: Massimiliano Pierobon