Touch requires mechanical contact and is governed by the physics of friction. Frictional movements may convert the continuous 3D profile of textural objects into discrete and probabilistic movement events of the viscoelastic integument (skin/hair) called stick-slip movements (slips). This complex transformation may further be determined by the microanatomy and the active movements of the sensing organ. Thus, the integument may realize a computation, transforming the tactile world in a context dependent way - long before it even activates neurons. The possibility that the tactile world is perceived through these ‘fractured goggles’ of friction has been largely ignored by classical perceptual and neuro-scientific work.
I will present biomechanical, neuro-scientific, and behavioral work supporting the slip hypothesis.
Biography: Cornelius Schwarz trained as a medical doctor at the Medical School Univerity Tübingen and got a PhD degree from the School of Science in 1993. He worked as a DFG funded researcher at NYU, New York City, USA before becoming the leader of an independent junior research group back in Tübingen funded by the BioFuture program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 1999. He became a faculty member of the School of Medicine in 2002, and since 2010 he is Full Professor at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN), an interdisciplinary institute at the University Tübingen. His current research is focused to understand behavioral, neuronal, and biomechanical aspects of active tactile perception as well as its learning-related plasticity (https://www.cin.uni-tuebingen.de/research/research-groups/professorships/systems-neurophysiology/research-directions.html).