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juin 2011

  • 17 juinInvestigating brain architecture through active touch sensing in animals and robots

    17 juin 2011

    The Institute of Neuroscience and Cognition organizes a special lecture by Professor Tony Prescott, Active Touch Laboratory and Adaptive Behavior Research Group , Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, U.K.  

    Tony Prescott is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, and leader of an important European research consortium on Active Touch. His research combines System Neuroscience, Behavioral experiments and Robotics. It aims at understanding how sensorimotor loops enable vibrissal sensing in animals and at designing new biomimetic robots The seminar will be followed by coffee and light refreshments, providing an opportunity for participants to meet and engage with Professor Prescott. 

    Abstract. The systems approach in the brain sciences has demonstrated that there is no straightforward decomposition of the brain into modules, or even a simple means to separate the brain from the body (in control terms), or the body from the environment. So how should we proceed to understand the relationship between brain and behaviour?  Our approach has been to investigate a complete sensorimotor loop, specifically, the guidance of exploratory behaviour by tactile sensing signals.  We have focused on the rat whisker (vibrissal) system as a model.  The neurobiology of this system indicates multiple layers of control, that can be loosely mapped to the different levels of the neuraxis, and that exhibit both some redundancy and some modularity.  Neuroethological experiments show a tight coupling between sensory signals and active control of the movement and positioning of the sensors. Electrophysiological and modelling studies suggest a system that is capable of rapidly extracting relevant affordances for action, rather than constructing complex internal representations of the external world.  These ideas will be illustrated with examples from our research on active touch sensing in animals and in biomimetic robots.

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