Welcome to the Active Touch Lab!

The Active Touch Laboratory uses methods in psychophysics, computational modelling, and robotics to investigate tactile sensing in people and intelligent machines.

We are based at the University of Sheffield in the Department of Psychology. We are also affiliated with Sheffield Robotics, INSIGNEO Institute for in silico Medicine, and the Neuroscience Institute.

Our research is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the European Union, and the Medical Research Council.

Skin mechanics and neural coding

How do the mechanical properties of the skin affect neural coding? Our research aims to uncover how mechanical contact events propagate through the skin, both on a coarse and a small scale, and then drive individual mechanoreceptor responses.

Modelling tactile population responses

We build large-scale models that simulate population responses from thousands of mechanoreceptive afferents innervating the hand or the foot. These models can help investigate neural coding on the population level and are employed in neuroprosthetic and robotics applications.

Cortical coding and plasticity

Using computational models ranging from the abstract to the detailed, we explore how touch is represented in the brain. We also investigate how these representations can adapt over time and how they might shape perception.



Giulia and fellow NeuTouch student Miguel presented their recent joint work on tactile population coding at the IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering (NER21).


Laura's abstract on resource allocation in sensory bottlenecks was selected for a talk at Cosyne 2021!


Zijun joins the lab as a PhD student, working on models of cortical somatotopic plasticity.


Rodrigo's FootSim abstract was accepted for the Neuromatch conference! Stay tuned for a talk about the modelling of cutaneous afferents of the foot sole.

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