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Organised by Professor Tony Prescott, Professor Alan Wing, Professor Mathew Diamond and Professor John Nicholls FRS
Active touch is finding out about the world by reaching out and exploring—sensing by ‘touching’ as opposed to ‘being touched’. This meeting is about the behavioural, physiological and neuronal underpinnings of active touch in a range of species, including man, and about building robots with biomimetic tactile sensing systems that can help us understand our own sense of touch.
Programme available to download here (PDF).
Biographies and audio recordings are available below.
The papers from this meeting have now been published in an issue of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions B.
Professor Tony Prescott, University of Sheffield, UKVibrissal behaviour in rodents and marsupials
Tony Prescott is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, UK, and a visiting Research Fellow at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UK. He first qualified in Psychology (MA, Edinburgh) and Artificial Intelligence (MSc, Aberdeen) before joining the Department of Psychology in Sheffield where he obtained a PhD for research on machine learning. He was appointed as a lecturer in 1992 and promoted to a personal chair in 2007. He currently leads the Active Touch Laboratory at Sheffield (ATL@S) which conducts ethological, neurobiological, computational modelling and robotic studies of tactile sensing in animals including humans. His broader research interests are concerned with understanding the evolution, development, and function of natural intelligence which he has explored using methods in computational neuroscience and biomimetic robots resulting in over 70 published journal articles and international conference papers. He is currently the co-ordinator of the European FP7 project BIOmimetic Technology for vibrissal ACtive Touch (BIOTACT) that aims to develop novel biomimetic tactile sensing technologies for robotics and involves nine partner groups in seven countries. He is also a co-organiser of the Convergence Science Network for Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (CSN), and of the annual Barcelona Summer School on Cognition, Brain, and Technology (BCBT).
Professor Guido Dehnhardt, University of Rostock, GermanyFlow sensing by pinniped whiskers
Professor Dr Guido Dehnhardt studied Biology, Psychology, and Geography at the University of Münster (Germany) and the University of Hawaii at Manao, USA. He received his PhD from University of Münster for his work on vibrissal active touch in sea lions. For several years he was head of research at the dolphinarium Münster before he did a Postdoc at the Department of Behavioural Ecology, University Bielefeld (Germany) from 1992-1996. He then joined the Sensory Physiology Group at University of Bonn (Germany), where he obtained his habilitation and venia legendi in Zoology in 2000. From 2000-2007 he was Assistant Professor at the Department of General Zoology & Neurobiology, University Bochum (Germany) and since 2007 he holds the chair in Sensory & Cognitive Ecology at University of Rostock, where he is also head of the Marine Science Center (www.msc-mv.de). Following a sensory and cognitive ecology approach, Dr. Dehnhardt's interdisciplinary group works on all sensory systems as well as cognitive processes with respect to their contribution to marine mammal orientation.
Professor Roberta Klatzky, Carnegie Mellon University, USAHaptic exploration and its role in object perception
Roberta Klatzky's work lies at the interface between perceptual and cognitive processes. She studies perceptually guided action, haptic perception, and spatial cognition. Her work on perceptually guided action has investigated perception in peripersonal space via multiple modalities, sensory and symbolic. Within haptic perception, she conducts research on the recognition of objects and processing of object properties by touch in real and virtual environments. Her studies emphasize the role of active exploration in gating the perceived properties of objects within the haptic modality. Klatzky's work in the area of spatial cognition has been concerned with basic human abilities to encode spatial locations from sensory modalities and language, and how a a common spatial representation can result from diverse input channels. Her research has been applied to tele-manipulation, image-guided surgery, and navigation aids for the blind.
Samir MujagicEmbodied learning of scale- and modality invariant concepts in honeybees
Christin Murphy Flow-induced vibrations in pinniped vibrissae
Roberta Roberts Roughness perception spans the hands
Professor Michael Brecht, Humboldt University, GermanyThe neurobiology of Etruscan shrew prey capture
Michael Brecht is Professor of Animal Physiology / Systems Neuroscience and Computational Neuroscience at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN Berlin) since 2006 and coordinator of the BCCN Berlin since 2008.
His research group analyses the significance of single neurons of the central nervous system, cellular mechanisms underlying complex behavioural patterns in the somatosensory and motor cortex as well as new techniques for the systemic neurobiology.
He studied Biochemistry und Biology in Tübingen and wrote his diploma thesis at the Keck Center for Integrative Neurosciences of the University of California in San Francisco under the direction Professor Preilowski and Professor Merzenich. In his doctoral dissertation under the direction of Professor Wolf Singer at the MPI for Brain Research (Frankfurt am Main), he investigated temporal coding in the nervous system. For this work, he was awarded a doctoral degree "summa cum laude" in 1998.
From 1999 until 2004, he led an independent research group in the department of Prof. Bert Sakmann at the MPI for Medical Research in Heidelberg. Awarded the habilitation degree in 2004, he moved to the Neuroscience Department of the Medical Center in the Erasmus University Rotterdam as an assistant professor.
Professor Volker Dürr, University of Bielefeld, Germany Active tactile exploration for adaptive locomotion in insects
Professor Dr Volker Dürrstudied Biology and Mathematics at the University of Tübingen (Germany), the University of Sussex (UK) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen (Germany). His PhD was on neurophysiological aspects of visual information processing, conducted at the Australian National University in Canberra (Australia) and at the Dept. of Neurobiology of the University of Bielefeld (Germany). After that he was research fellow at the University of Bielefeld, where he obtained his habilitation and venia legendi in Zoology in 2005. During that time, he focussed on sensory-guided, context-dependent control of motor behaviour and neural network modelling of locomotor behaviour. From 2007 to 2009, he led his own research group at the University of Cologne, focusing on active tactile sensing in insects, its role in locomotor control and its implementation in bionics/biorobotics. In 2009 he became appointed head of the Dept. of Biological Cybernetics at the University of Bielefeld, where he is also responsible investigator of the Center of Excellence in Cognitive Interaction Technology, CITEC.
Professor Mitra Hartmann, Northwestern University, USABiomechanics of vibrissal touch
Professor Mitra J Z Hartmann received a Bachelor of Science in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University, and a PhD in Integrative Neuroscience from the California Institute of Technology. She was a postdoctoral scholar at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in the Bio-Inspired Technology and Systems group, and joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 2003. Professor Hartmann is presently an Associate Professor at Northwestern with a 50-50 joint appointment between the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She was the 2010 McCormick School of Engineering teacher of the year and is the recipient of an NSF Career award.
Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University, USASpecializing on touch – mechanosensation and brain organization in the star-nosed
Ken Cantania is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee. Ken studies the brains and sensory systems of unusual mammals including star-nosed moles, water shrews, and naked mole-rats. While an undergraduate at the University of Maryland in College Park, he worked at the National Zoo in Washington and later earned his PhD in Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. Ken did his post-doc with Jon Kaas in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University before taking a faculty position at the University in the Department of Biological Sciences. Ken was a 2001 Searle Scholar, received the Capranica award in Neuroethology, the Herrick award in neuroanatomy, and most recently a 2006 MacArthur award.
Professor Alan Wing, University of Birmingham, UKTouch as a balancing act
Alan Wing studied Physics and Psychology as an undergraduate at Edinburgh University. After completing a PhD (with AB Kristofferson) on timing of movement at McMaster University in Ontario, he continued this research as a postdoc (with S Sternberg) at Bell Labs in New Jersey. He then joined MRC staff at the Cambridge Applied Psychology Unit (with AD Baddeley) where he commenced studies of anticipatory control of posture in balance and grip. Alan is currently Professor of Human Movement in the School of Psychology at The University of Birmingham where he leads the Sensory Motor Neuroscience group.
Professor Ehud Ahissar, Weizmann Institute, IsraelMotor-sensory convergence on object location
Ehud Ahissar is a Professor of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. He holds the Helen Diller family professorial chair in Neurobiology. He earned a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Tel Aviv University, and his PhD in Neurobiology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on neuronal mechanisms of adaptive perception with a special emphasis on active sensing via closed loops. By applying principles of engineering and neurobiology, Ahissar and his colleagues are trying to understand the operation of, and the processes underlying the emergence of perception in the rodent whisking system, as well as the human tactile and visual systems.
Professor Michael Turvey, Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action, University of Connecticut & Haskins Laboratories, USAProprio-, extero-, and exproprioperception by dynamic touch
Michael Turvey received his PhD from Ohio State University in 1967. He joined the University of Connecticut in 1967 and the Haskins Laboratories in 1970. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellow, the American Psychological Association (APA) Early Career Award, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Cattell Fellow, Honorary Doctorate Free University of Amsterdam, APA Distinguished Scientist Lecturer, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor (University of Connecticut), Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Foundation F J McGuigan Lecturer, Fellow Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus, and President of the International Society of Motor Control. He has published over 370 scientific articles, produced more than 40 PhDs, and taught more than 27,000 undergraduates. His research on perception and action and their inter-relation follows James Gibson and Nicolai Bernstein in emphasizing the search for general laws and principles. His research on visual word recognition pursues the key role of phonology in reading identified by Alvin and Isabelle Liberman. He became Professor Emeritus in 2008.
Benoit Delhaye Vibrations in the forearm during active touch of rough textures
Lucia BeccaiRoughness discrimination of surfaces in artificial active touch
Flavia Cardini Vision of the body modulates somatosensory intracortical inhibition
Professor Matthew Diamond, International School for Advanced Studies, Italy Whisking to acquire texture
Mathew E Diamond is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy. He earned a BSc in Engineering Science from the University of Virginia and a PhD in Neurobiology from the University of North Carolina. He was a postdoc with Ford Ebner at Brown University, where he first developed an interest in sensory coding in the whisker system, a topic that remains at the center of his research. Other lines of research include extensions of tactile experiments from the whisker system to the human finger tip. The main question in Diamond's laboratory is the neuronal language of perception, and the connection between neuronal firing and behavior.
Professor Astrid Kappers Utrecht University, The Netherlands Shape from touch
Astrid ML Kappers studied experimental physics at Utrecht University. She received the PhD degree from Eindhoven University of Technology. Since 1989, she has been in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Utrecht University, where she is the head of the Human Perception Group. She was promoted to full professor in 2005. Her research takes place in the Helmholtz Institute. Her research interests include haptic and visual perception. In 2003, she won the prestigious VICI grant. She is a member of the editorial boards of Acta Psychologica and Current Psychology Letters, and an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics.
Dr Chris Dijkerman, Utrecht University, The NetherlandsThe role of active touch in somatosensory and body representation disorders after stroke
Chris Dijkerman is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Utrecht University. He completed his DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford under supervision of Larry Weiskrantz and Faraneh Vargha-Khadem and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral research fellow with David Milner at the University of St Andrews. His research interests include the neuropsychology of somatosensory and visuomotor processing, hemispatial neglect and motor imagery. He has (co)-authored over 60 scientific papers and book chapters, including a target article on cortical somatosensory processing in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. His research has been funded by grants from the Leverhulme Trust, the Scottish Department of Health, the Dutch Brain Foundation (Hersenstichting) and the Netherlands Research Organisation (NWO). His research is currently funded by a Vici personal fellowship from NWO.
Professor Claudia Carello, University of Connecticut, USAPanellist, What does being active do for touch?
Professor Francis McGlone, Liverpool JM University, UKPanellist, What does being active do for touch?
Dr Jason Ritt, Boston University, USAPanellist, What does being active do for touch?
Dr Blythe Towal, Northwestern University, USAPanellist, What does being active do for touch?
Professor Antonio Bicchi, Università di Pisa, ItalyThe geometry of haptic synergies in artificial manipulation and sensing
Antonio Bicchi received the Laurea degree in Engineering from the University of Pisa in 1984, and the Doctoral degree from the University of Bologna in 1989. After a post-doctoralf fellowship at the Artificial Intelligence lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Pisa in 1990.
He is Professor of Systems Theory and Roboticsin the Department of Electrical Systems and Automation (DSEA) of the University of Pisa and the Director of the Interdepartmental Research Center "E Piaggio'' of the University of Pisa , where he has been leading the Automation and Robotics group since 1990.
His main research interests are in haptics and Dexterous manipulation; dynamics, kinematics and control of complex mechanical systems, including robots, autonomous vehicles, and automotive systems; theory and control of nonlinear systems, in particular hybrid (logic/dynamic, symbol/signal) systems.
He has published more than 250 papers on international journals, books, and refereed conferences. Antonio Bicchi is a Fellow of IEEE, and Editor in Chief of the Conference Editorial Board of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.
He has served in the Editorial or Advisory Board of several Journals, including IEEE Trans. Robotics and Automation, IEEE Trans. Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, Int. J. Robotics Reserarch. He has organized several conferences, among which the First WorldHaptics Conference in 2005 in Pisa. He was Vice President of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society; Chairman of the Technical Committee for Manufacturing, Automation, and Robotics Control (MARC) of IEEE Control Systems Society.
Professor Christopher Comer, The University of Montana, USAActive touch in orthopteroid insects: behaviours, multisensory substrates, evolution
Christopher Comer is Professor of Biology & Neuroscience and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Montana. He came to Missoula from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was Director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience, and then Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Comer’s research is in the area of sensorimotor integration: current studies concern the design and evolution of visual and mechanosensory brain circuits. This research has implications for such things as designing neural prosthetic devices and building biologically based robots. Chris has taught principally in the areas of physiology, animal behavior, and neuroscience. During the summers he leads an interdisciplinary program in Ireland “Brain, Mind and the Artistic Imagination.”
He received a PhD from the University of Chicago, and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Cornell University. He also served for 2 years at The National Science Foundation where he was Director of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program.
Dr Marc Ernst, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Germany Touch and the interaction with the other senses: teaching perception
Starting in 2011 Dr Mark Ernst will be chair of the department for Cognitive Neuroscience at Bielefeld University. Currently Dr Ernst is leader of the Max Planck Research Group on Human Multisenory Perception & Action at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. His research interest is in human multimodal perception, sensorimotor integration and man-machine interaction. For investigations, the research group mainly use quantitative psychophysical and neuropsychological methods together with Virtual Reality techniques and Bayesian models of sensory perception.
Dr Ernst studied Physics in Heidelberg and Frankfurt/Main. In 2000 he received a PhD at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics for investigations on human visuomotor behaviour. For this work he was awarded the Attempto-Prize from the University of Tübingen and the Otto-Hahn-Medaille from the Max-Planck-Society. Dr Ernst spent his postdoctoral time at the University of California, Berkeley working with Professor Martin Banks on psychophysical experiments and computational models investigating the integration of visual-haptic information (2000-2001). At the end of 2001 he returned to the MPI and became principle investigator of the Sensorimotor Lab in the Department of Professor Heinrich Bülthoff. Beginning 2007, he started his own group, which is participating in several international collaborative grants, including the EU Project ImmerSence and THE, investigating human-human and human-machine interaction, and a HFSP project focusing on perceptual learning. Furthermore, Dr Ernst was coordinating the EU Project CyberWalk, which developed an omnidirectional treadmill enabling naturalistic locomotion through Virtual Environments. Recently, he was offered the professorship for Cognitive Neuroscience at Bielefeld University, which he will start in the beginning of 2011.
Professor Tony Pipe, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UK
Tony Pipe is Deputy Director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems. He has 15 years experience of carrying out research in biologically-inspired robotics, machine learning and adaptive behaviour, applied to intelligent and distributed control/monitoring systems. His research foci are as follows. Human Robot Interaction, especially safe HRI for robots co-located with humans; modelling animal brain-stem, hind/mid-brain signal processing and control structures in electronic systems for real-time robot control; self-healing VLSI electronic hardware for safety-critical applications; adaptive neural control of complex non-linear systems, e.g., robot manipulators, hydraulic/pneumatic actuators; rehabilitation robotics (robots that can aid or support human recovery). He is leading BRL’s technical work-packages for 2 FP7 ICT projects, one of which is focused on whiskered active-tactile sensing for robots, and further research projects ranging from artificial cognition, through human-fingertip style sensing, to real-time brain modelling, artificial immune-system derived fault tolerant electronic structures; together worth in excess of £2.3M to BRL.
Professor Vincent Hayward, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France Mechanisms of haptic interaction and their application to the design of tactile interfaces
Vincent Hayward (Dr-Ing, 1981 Univ. de Paris XI) was Postoctoral Fellow then Visiting Assistant Professor (1982) at Purdue University, and joined CNRS, France, as Chargé de Recherches in 1983. In 1987, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University as assistant, associate and then full professor (2006). He was the Director of the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines from 2001 to 2004. Hayward is interested in haptic device design and applications, perception, and robotics and published more than 60 articles in scientific journals and collections as well as more than 100 articles in international conferences. Approximately half of these articles are in the field of haptics. Hayward co-founded spin-off companies and received several best paper and research awards. He is on editorial board of the ACM Transaction on Applied Perception and of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, and is a Fellow of the IEEE. As of 2008, he holds the "Chaire internationale d'haptique" at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and became an ERC grantee in 2010.
Panel Discussion II: Future DirectionsPart I and Part II
Café Scientifique 20 May
Industry networking event 21 May
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