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 co-director of the Active Touch Laboratory.

Lab members

  • Laura Edmondson (PhD student)
  • Renjie Ning (MSc student, Dept. Automatic Control and Systems Engineering)
  • Giulia Tomassoni (SURE scheme BSc 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 director of the MSc(Res) Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Neuroimaging course. I also teach on the following modules:

  • PSY6309: Mathematical Modelling and Research skills (module organizer)
  • PSY6308: Computational Neuroscience 2 - Theoretical Models
  • PSY101: Discovering Psychology
  • PSY103: Psychology at Sheffield
  • PSY159: Critical Skills for Psychologists
  • PSY331: Extended essay in Psychology
  • PSY346: Research project in Psychology


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

Journal articles