Tag Archives: Saal

An information theoretic approach to tactile encoding and discrimination (PhD)

When grasping a cup of tea, thousands of mechanoreceptors in our fingertips respond and transmit information about texture, curvature of the cup and potential slippage to the brain. This happens very rapidly, while the information is nonetheless very accurate. Using microneurographical data recorded from the human median nerve I try to determine how tactile information is encoded in the spike trains of tactile afferents. To this end, I use methods from information theory and machine learning. Moreover, using a robotic hand equipped with touch sensors, similar experiments can be performed on robots, where the artificial system now faces the same problems as humans: how to make sense of the continuous stream of highly redundant incoming information.

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Related Publications and Presentations

  • Hannes P. Saal, Sethu Vijayakumar, and Roland Johansson, “Spatiotemporal distribution of tactile information across the human fingertip”, FENS Abstracts, 2008.
  • Hannes P. Saal, Nicolas Heess, and Sethu Vijayakumar, “Multimodal nonlinear filtering using Gauss-Hermite quadrature”, European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML), 2011.
  • Hannes P. Saal, Sethu Vijayakumar, and Roland Johansson, “Information about present and past stimulus features in human tactile afferents”, COSYNE, 2008.
  • Hannes P. Saal, Sethu Vijayakumar, and Roland Johansson, “Information about complex fingertip parameters in individual human tactile afferent neurons”, Journal of Neuroscience, 2009, 29(25), 8022-8031.
  • Hannes P. Saal, Jo-Anne Ting, and Sethu Vijayakumar, “Active sequential learning with tactile feedback”, International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, 2010, 9(JLMR W&CP).
  • Hannes P. Saal, Jo-Anne Ting, and Sethu Vijayakumar, “Active Filtering for Robot Tactile Learning”, Workshop on Adaptive Sensing, Active Learning, and Experimental Design; at Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2009), 2009.
  • Hannes P. Saal, Jo-Anne Ting, and Sethu Vijayakumar, “Active estimation of object dynamics parameters with tactile sensors”, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010, 916-921.

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