Principles and applications of active tactile sensing strategies in the rat vibrissal system

R. Blythe Towal, Mitra J Z Hartmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The importance of active sensing to animals suggests that it may confer significant advantages to engineered sensing systems. The rat vibrissal (whisker) system is an important model for studying tactile active sensing. To date, however, the small size and fast speeds of the whiskers have precluded characterization of the rat's exploratory strategies. We have developed novel optical instrumentation that has allowed one of the first quantifications of tactile sampling during rat exploratory behavior. Results reveal characteristics of vibrissal active sensing that may find application in artificial tactile sensing systems; for example, the morphology of the whisker array allows rats to sample at multiple spatial scales within a single sampling cycle. Here, we describe the design and implementation of the novel optical system and how it is helping to uncover sampling strategies in this biological system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIEEE Sensors 2010 Conference, SENSORS 2010
Number of pages5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Event9th IEEE Sensors Conference 2010, SENSORS 2010 - Waikoloa, HI, United States
Duration: Nov 1 2010Nov 4 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of IEEE Sensors


Other9th IEEE Sensors Conference 2010, SENSORS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWaikoloa, HI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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