Modelling mechanoreceptor reaction to tissue deformation
The Ruffini ending is a specific type of nerve ending, which produces an electrical signal in response to mechanical stretching of the surrounding tissue. From published experimental data, it has been suggested that the Ruffini ending has a 'preferred direction'; if it is stretched in one direction it will respond more strongly than if it is stretched in another direction.
A coupling factor was used to convert a mechanical strain experienced at the location of a Ruffini ending into a 'firing frequency'; the frequency at which a nerve ending generates an electrical impulse. This was then fitted to a set of results, as published by Grigg and Hoffman (Grigg and Hoffman, 1982), and a series of ratios applied to represent a preferred orientation.
This relatively simple model fitted the datasets better when a preferred orientation was included, suggesting that the Ruffini ending does in fact behave asymmetrically. Further work, involving the building of more detailed models, is required to confirm this.
Grigg and Hoffman, Properties of Ruffini afferents revealed by stress analysis of isolated sections of cat knee capsule. Journal of Neurophysiology, 1982, 47(1):p. 41-54
Physical Systems and Engineering simulation: Biomechanics
Simulation software: COMSOL
Programming languages and libraries: Matlab
Transdisciplinary tags: Complex Systems