Dr Hannes Saal

Postal address
Department of Psychology
University of Sheffield
Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane, Sheffield S1 2LT, UK
Pam Liversidge Building F05
Mappin St, Sheffield S1 3JD
Tel: +44 (0)114 222 6504
Email: h.saal@sheffield.ac.uk

Other profiles: ORCID, Google Scholar


BSc Cognitive Science (Osnabrueck, Germany), MSc Neuroinformatics (Edinburgh), PhD Neuroinformatics (Edinburgh)

Research Interests

I work on mathematical models of sensory coding and perception; my main research area is the sense of touch, where 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.

I am a member of Sheffield Robotics  and INSIGNEO Institute for in silico Medicine. I direct the Active Touch Laboratory.

Lab members

  • Rodrigo Siqueira De Souza (Research Associate)
  • Laura Edmondson (PhD student)
  • Giulia Corniani (PhD student)
  • Luke Cleland (CCN MSc student)
  • Nicholas Garside (CCN MSc student)
  • Jonathan Jones (CCN MSc student)
  • Zimeng Wan (CCN MSc student)


TouchSim is a Matlab package that simulates spiking responses from thousands of tactile afferents terminating on the palmar surface of the hand to arbitrary indentation of the skin (see Saal, Delhaye et al., PNAS, 2017 for details). The package is freely available for download.


I am the course director for the MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Neuroimaging program. I also teach on the following modules:

  • PSY6309: Mathematical Modelling and Research skills (module organizer)
  • PSY6308: Computational Neuroscience 2 - Theoretical Models
  • PSY1002: Cognitive Psychology I
  • PSY2002: Cognitive Psychology II


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of publications please click here

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

  • Edmondson L, Jimenez-Rodriguez A & Saal H (2019) Nonlinear scaling of resource allocation in sensory bottlenecks. Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 19) (pp 7543-7552). Vancouver, Canada, 8 December 2019 - 14 December 2019. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download