Active Touch Laboratory at Sheffield
The Active Touch Laboratory uses methods in animal behaviour, neuroethology, human psychophysics, computational modelling and robotics to investigate tactile sensing in animals, people and intelligent machines.
|Meet the lab||
Dr Hannes Saal (Director)
I use human psychophysics, computational modeling, and applied machine learning in order to elucidate the fundamental computations allowing us to make sense of our environment through touch.
My research explores the interaction between evolution and development in the context of mammalian somatosensory systems. In particular, I am interested in how self-organisation can interact with natural selection in the context of i) self-organisation of topological maps in rodent barrel cortex, ii) self-organising thermoregulatory huddling behaviours in rodent litters.
I investigate active touch sensing in animals, humans and robots, focusing on (i) the evolution of the mammalian somatosensory system, (ii) multisensory perception and memory, (iii) haptic interaction and emotional touch in biomimetic robots, and (iv) haptic interfaces for sensory augmentation and telepresence.
I'm a research associate with experience in comparative neuroanatomy, cell culturing, multichannel electrophysiology and immunocytochemistry. Utilising my programming and data analysis/data modelling skills I'm working on the modelling of the responses of afferent fibres of the foot sole. In addition, I'm also a guest lecturer for the computational neuroscience module.
My research on active touch sensing focuses on its role in generating functional spatial percepts that drive local motion planning through spatial attention and global motion planning through mapping and navigation systems. I investigate these themes through computational modelling and through the construction of biomimetic robots.
Laura R Edmondson (PhD student)
I am a PhD student supervised by Hannes Saal & Stuart Wilson. My research focuses on modelling somatosensory cortex using dimensionality reduction techniques and self-organising models. I am interested in the mechanisms which determine the topography and magnification of the hand seen in the primary somatosensory cortex of both humans and non-human primates.
Giulia Corniani (PhD student)
I am a PhD student supervised by Hannes Saal. I am part of the NeuTouch project, included in the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. My research focuses on the spiking models of realistic human tactile interactions. I am interested in the development of a computational method that translates sensor input into spiking output to deliver realistic and real-time tactile feedback for neuroprosthetics and robotics.
Luke Cleland (CCN MSc student)
I am currently a student on the Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience Masters. My research focuses on proprioception and relates to the representation of the hand in the somatotosensory cortex. I investigate how the representation in the brain may change depending on the use of the hand.
2018-19 Nathan Darnley (CCN MSc)
|News and resources||