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Göttingen / Bielefeld / Bochum - Kyoto

German - Japanese Collaboration in Computational Neuroscience

Haptic Learning
(funded by DFG and JST)

This proposal focuses on haptic learning and motor control derived from haptic feedback. Dexterous manipulation of objects by primates (most notably by humans) requires integrating multiple sensor signals (vision, proprioception, haptics), where haptics plays a major role for the fine-tuning of grasps as well as for the perception of object properties (size, shape, weight, material, etc.). Even though haptics plays such an important role, little is known how the brain represents and recognizes such properties and how we can learn haptic sensormotor coordination. The goal of the current project is, to undertake a pioneering effort in this field using a novel measurement device ("intelligent Object" - see below), with which haptic patterns can be continuously monitored. Using this new device, we will connect neuroscientific expertise with expertise in computational modeling in order to:

  • Implement novel experimental paradigms for investigating and analyzing the change of brain representations during the haptically driven learning of finger movement sequences.
  • Measure and quantify the influence of haptic inputs and the improvement of motor control from learning using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
  • Create a computational model of these processes combining topographically arranged dynamic map models with temporal sequence learning.

The major expected outcome from this study is to obtain novel insights about haptic representations and their influence on motor control in the brain and - by means of novel methods - also create a potential for medical applications in diagnosis. This work is performed in a collaboration that exists between ATR (Kyoto) and the University of Göttingen (Germany) and is extended by additional German partners from the University of Bielefeld (intelligent Object) and the Ruhr-University Bochum, who will provide modeling expertise.


The following scientists take part in this collaboration:

  • Prof. Florentin Wörgötter, University of Göttingen
  • Prof. Helge Ritter, Bielefeld University
  • Dr. Yulia Sandramirskaya, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Prof. Gregor Schöner, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Dr. Jun Morimoto, ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan
  • Dr. Hiroshi Imamizu, ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan
  • Dr. Eiichi Naito, National Institute of Information & Communications Technology (NICT), Kyoto, Japan


German Coordinator:

Prof. Florentin Wörgötter
Institut für Physik 3 -
Biophysik and BCCN,
Georg-August Universität Göttingen      
Friedrich-Hund Platz 1
D-37077 Göttingen

Tel.: +49 (0) 551-39-10760