Conversations on Bionics and Pain

This show is about engineering and medical developments related to bionics and pain, particularly the use of science and technology to restore function in the human body and alleviation of pain.

The episodes come in two formats. The most common are long interviews with established researchers about their work and the historical context in which it happened, such as the state-of-the-art at the time and the motivation behind it. The second format is shorter interviews with the authors of recent scientific articles about their findings.

In both formats, the guests will talk about their career paths, their views on current challenges in the field, and the opportunities ahead. We also talk about their views on science and the social aspects surrounding it, without shying away from controversial topics.

The target audience is students and professionals interested in pain, bionics, biomechatronics, neural engineering, computer-brain interfaces, biomedical engineering, and such topics in which medicine and engineering partner up.

The show is hosted by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan, Ph.D., who is the Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research ( and known for his work on prosthetic limbs and phantom limb pain.

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Music by Dr. Enzo Mastinu

Art by David Martín Espinosa


A2 Somatosensory Plasticity | Prof. Sliman Bensmaia
Hide Details51min 10s

Episode on the article “Chronic Use of a Sensitized Bionic Hand Does Not Remap the Sense of Touch” (Ortiz-Catalan et al., Cell Reports, 2020). I discuss with Prof. Sliman Bensmaia at the University of Chicago, with whom we published this article, how the long-term used of a bionic hand that elicits tactile sensory feedback in a location distinct to that observed by the user, provided evidence to the inability of the brain to change enough as to generate an experience that solves the mismatch. In other words, we showed a hard constraint to brain plasticity in the somatosensory system.

Interview by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan, Ph.D., Bionics Professor and Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research (Social media: FB, TW, IG, and LI).

Episode timestamps

(00:00) Coming up

(04:00) Introduction

(11:25) Introducing Prof. Sliman Bensmaia

(12:30) Betting on brain plasticity           

(13:48) How do we feel touch?

(14:54) Our experiment with neuromusculoskeletal prostheses

(17:53) Lack of selectivity of neural interface

(20:12) Why should percept location change?

(22:05) Evidence for perceptual updates

(28:19) Brain plasticity

(30:35) Somatosensory plasticity would have benefited designers of neural interfaces

(34:01) Single vs train of pulses

(39:58) Sex transfer procedures support the stability of somatosensory (phalloplasty)

(43:26) Stay open to possibilities, yet state your stand.

(46:36) Ideal restoration of sensory feedback

51min 10s
Published Apr 25, 2021 at 9:55pm
2 Prof. Todd Kuiken | Targeted Muscle Reinnervation
Show Details1hr 3min
A1 Open-Source Bionic Leg | Prof. Elliott Rouse and Prof. Levi Hargrove
Show Details52min 59s
1 Prof. Gerald E. Loeb | Neuroprostheses
Show Details1hr 45min
Welcome to Conversations on Bionics and Pain
Show Details7min 41s