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Mitra HartmannProfessor of Biomedical EngineeringProfessor of Mechanical EngineeringDirector of Graduate Studies for Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Hartmann's research focuses on the neurobiology and biomechanics of active sensing behaviors, and on the development of bio-inspired computational models and hardware to test candidate neurobiological algorithms. Our lab is particularly interested in how sensory feedback is used in real time to guide motor activity, and how movement enables sensory acquisition and perception. The main scientific interests of the lab are:

  • How animal biomechanics enables efficient movement and active sensing
  • How animals represent 3-dimensional spatial information using spatiotemporal variations in activity across 2-dimensional receptor sheets
  • How the construction of hardware and computer models of animal movement and sensing can provide insights into the underlying organization of the nervous system

Current research in the laboratory concentrates specifically on the sensory modulation of behaviors involving rhythmic movement, because rhythmic movement, and perturbations to it, is relatively easy to observe, measure, and quantify. We work with two model systems that use sensory feedback to modulate fundamentally periodic activity: rat whisking behavior, and bipedal locomotion. By studying how sensory feedback affects periodic motion, we hope to gain insight into the continuous, recursive interplay between sensory and motor signals during active behaviors.

The Sensory and Neural Engineering (SeNSE) Group

Whiskers and the sense of touch

The SeNSE group is part of the Center for Robotics and Biosystems, whose research focuses on robotics, neuroscience, and bio-inspired robotics.

Our sense of touch is mysterious. It is easy for you to reach into your pocket or purse and — without looking — identify your cellphone, keys, or a coin. Somehow, your brain combines information about your hand movements and the contacts that you make, to enable you to perceive a particular object.

The long term goal of our laboratory is to better understand how movement and touch are combined in the brain to enable perception.This type of research could ultimately help people disabled by stroke or brain injury.

We use rats as a model to study the sense of touch. Rats, however, don't use their "hands" (paws) very much to explore objects. Sometimes they do, but mostly they use their whiskers. If you've ever watched a rat run around, you'll notice that they're constantly touching their noses to objects. If you were able to use a slow-motion video camera to watch the rat, as our laboratory does, what you would see is that the rat is continuously brushing its whiskers against objects very rapidly, between 5 and 25 times a second. This behavior is called "whisking." The rat is touching different objects to figure out their location, size, shape, and texture. 

In broad terms, our work may be divided into three main research areas:

  • Quantifying and simulating whisking behavior: We use high-speed video to quantify rat whisking behavior, and we use computational models to quantify the contact patterns that whiskers make with different objects.
  • Understanding the mechanics of whiskers: We study the mechanics of whiskers in order to gain insight into how the rat's brain is able to interpret mechanical signals to determine object properties such as size, shape, and texture.
  • Constructing robotic models of the whisker system: We construct small robots with whiskers. These robots may find application in several different industries, and are an important investigative tool in neuroscience research.

Sensory data and the control of locomotion

We have become interested in how the nervous system might use sensory data from the feet, knees, and hips to help control walking. We have performed simulations of bipedal walking over rough terrain to demonstrate that actuation based on simple combinations of sensory inputs from the joints can lead to stable walking.

The Digital Rat: A 3D model of the rat head and vibrissal array

The Digital Rat represents our laboratory's efforts towards the development of a morphologically and mechanically accurate model of the rat head and vibrissal (whisker) array. The long-term goal is to develop a simulation environment that can be used to model the spatiotemporal patterns of mechanical input to vibrissae during the rat's tactile exploratory behaviors. Read more about the software here. 

Postdoctoral Scholar, Bio-Inspired Technology and Systems Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Postdoctoral Scholar, Computational Neurobiology
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Ph.D., Integrative Neuroscience
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

B.S., Applied and Engineering Physics
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

View all of Dr. Hartmann's publications and patents.

Recent Publications

Abraham, I., A. Prabhakar, M. J. Z. Hartmann, and T. D. Murphey, "Ergodic Exploration using Binary Sensing for Non-Parametric Shape Estimation", IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 2, issue 2, pp. 827-834, 2017. Google Scholar

Bush, N. E., C. L. Schroeder, J. A. Hobbs, A. E. T. Yang, L. A. Huet, S. A. Solla, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Decoupling kinematics and mechanics reveals coding properties of trigeminal ganglion neurons in the rat vibrissal system", eLife, vol. 5, pp. e13969, Jun-27-2016. Google Scholar 

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Evidence for Functional Groupings of Vibrissae across the Rodent Mystacial Pad", PLOS Computational Biology, vol. 12, issue 1, pp. e1004109, Aug-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Yu, Y. S. W., M. M. Graff, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Mechanical responses of rat vibrissae to airflow", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 219, issue 7, pp. 937 - 948, Jan-04-2016. Google Scholar

Kaloti, A. S., E. C. Johnson, C. S. Bresee, S. N. Naufel, M. G. Perich, D. L. Jones, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Representation of Stimulus Speed and Direction in Vibrissal-Sensitive Regions of the Trigeminal Nuclei: A Comparison of Single Unit and Population Responses", PLOS ONE, vol. 11, issue 7, pp. e0158399, Jul-27-2016. Google Scholar 

Huet, L. A., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Simulations of a Vibrissa Slipping along a Straight Edge and an Analysis of Frictional Effects during Whisking", IEEE Transactions on Haptics, pp. 158-169, Jan-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Spatiotemporal Patterns of Contact Across the Rat Vibrissal Array During Exploratory Behavior", Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 9, May-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Belli, H., A. E. T. Yang, C. S. Bresee, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Variations in vibrissal geometry across the rat mystacial pad: base diameter, medulla, and taper", Journal of Neurophysiology, pp. jn.00054.2016, Nov-11-2016. Google Scholar 

Yu, Y. S. W., M. M. Graff, C. S. Bresee, Y. B. Man, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Whiskers aid anemotaxis in rats", Science Advances, vol. 2, issue 8, pp. e1600716, Aug-24-2016. Google Scholar

Yang, A. E. T., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Whisking Kinematics Enables Object Localization in Head-Centered Coordinates Based on Tactile Information from a Single Vibrissa", Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 10, pp. Article 145, Jul-19-2016. Google Scholar 

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Probability distributions of whisker-surface contact: quantifying elements of the rat vibrissotactile natural scene", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, issue 16, pp. 2551 - 2562, Jan-08-2015. Google Scholar 

Huet, L. A., C. L. Schroeder, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Tactile signals transmitted by the vibrissa during active whisking behavior", Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 113, issue 10, pp. 3511 - 3518, Jan-06-2015. Google Scholar 

Quist, B. W., V. Seghete, L. A. Huet, T. D. Murphey, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Modeling Forces and Moments at the Base of a Rat Vibrissa during Noncontact Whisking and Whisking against an Object", Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, issue 30, pp. 9828 - 9844, 07/2014. Google Scholar 

Huet, L. A., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "The search space of the rat during whisking behavior", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 217, issue 18, pp. 3365 - 3376, 09/2014. Google Scholar

Solomon, J. H., M. A. Locascio, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control for efficient 2D and 3D bipedal walking over rough terrain", Adaptive Behavior, vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 29 - 46, 02/2013. Google Scholar 

Hartmann, M. J. Z., and J. H. Solomon, Systems, methods, and apparatus for reconstruction of 3-D object morphology, position, orientation and texture using an array of tactile sensors, , vol. US8504500 B2, no. US 12/847,822, 08/2013. Google Scholar 

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Active sensing: Head and vibrissal velocity during exploratory behaviors of the rat", Frontiers in Sensing: Springer, pp. 209–224, 2012. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., M. A. Locascio, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control for efficient 2D and 3D bipedal walking over rough terrain", Adaptive Behavior: SAGE Publications, 2012. Google Scholar 

Locascio, M. A., J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control of three-dimensional bipedal walking in the presence of noise and uncertainty", Adaptive Behavior, issue 20: SAGE Publications, 2012. Google Scholar 

Quist, B. W., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Mechanical signals at the base of a rat vibrissa: the effect of intrinsic vibrissa curvature and implications for tactile exploration", Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 107, no. 9: Am Physiological Soc, pp. 2298–2312, 2012. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., M. J. Z. Hartmann, and C. L. Schroeder, Object profile sensing, , vol. US8109007 B2, no. US 12/455,389, 02/2012. Google Scholar 

Tuna, C., J. H. Solomon, D. L. Jones, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Object shape recognition with artificial whiskers using tomographic reconstruction", Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), 2012 IEEE International Conference on: IEEE, pp. 2537–2540, 2012. Google Scholar 

Schroeder, C. L., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Sensory prediction on a whiskered robot: A tactile analogy to" optic flow"", Frontiers in Neurorobotics, vol. 6: Frontiers, pp. 9, 10/2012. Google Scholar 

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "B. Touch Active sensing: head and vibrissa I velocity during exploratory behaviors of the rat", Frontiers in Sensing: From Biology to Engineering: Springer, pp. 209, 2011. Google Scholar 

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, V. Gopal, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "The morphology of the rat vibrissal array: a model for quantifying spatiotemporal patterns of whisker-object contact", PLoS computational biology, vol. 7, no. 4: Public Library of Science, pp. e1001120, 2011. Google Scholar | BibTex | RTF

Hartmann, M. J. Z., "A night in the life of a rat: vibrissal mechanics and tactile exploration", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1225, no. 1: Wiley Online Library, pp. 110–118, 2011. Google Scholar

Solomon, J. H., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Radial distance determination in the rat vibrissal system and the effects of Weber's law", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 366, no. 1581: The Royal Society, pp. 3049–3057, 2011. Google Scholar 

Quist, B. W., R. A. Faruqi, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Variation in Young's modulus along the length of a rat vibrissa", Journal of biomechanics: Elsevier, 2011. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Extracting object contours with the sweep of a robotic whisker using torque information", The International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 29, no. 9: SAGE Publications, pp. 1233–1245, 2010. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Extracting object contours with the sweep of a robotic whisker using only torque information", International Journal of Robotics Research, pp. 1233-1245, 2010. Google Scholar 

Additional Publications

2018

Yang AET, Hartmann MJZ, and Bergbreiter S (2018) Contact-resistive sensing of touch and airflow using a rat whisker. 7th IEEE RAS/EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics. August 26-29, 2018. Enschede, The Netherlands

Emnett HM, Graff MM, and Hartmann MJZ (2018) A Novel Whisker Sensor Used for 3D Contact Point Determination and Contour Extraction. Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems. June 2018. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Belli HM, Bresee CS, Graff MM, and Hartmann MJZ (2018) Quantifying the three-dimensional facial morphology of the laboratory rat with a focus on the vibrissae. PLoS ONE. 

2017

Zhuang C, Kubilius J, Hartman MJZ, Yamins D (2017) Toward Goal-Driven Neural Network Models for the Rodent Whisker-Trigeminal System. Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems 2552-2562 

Abraham, I., A. Prabhakar, M. J. Z. Hartmann, and T. D. Murphey, "Ergodic Exploration using Binary Sensing for Non-Parametric Shape Estimation", IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 2, issue 2, pp. 827-834, 2017. Google Scholar

Huet LA, Rudnicki JW, Hartmann MJZ (2017) Tactile sensing with whiskers of various shapes: Determining the three-dimensional location of object contact based on mechanical signals at the whisker base. Soft Robotics 4(2):88-102 

Belli HM, Yang AET, Bresee CS, and Hartmann MJZ (2017) Variations in vibrissal geometry across the rat mystacial pad: base diameter, medulla, and taper. Journal of Neurophysiology. 117:1807-1820

2016

Bush NE, Solla SA, and Hartmann MJZ (2016) Whisking mechanics and active sensing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 40:178-188 

Bush, N. E., C. L. Schroeder, J. A. Hobbs, A. E. T. Yang, L. A. Huet, S. A. Solla, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Decoupling kinematics and mechanics reveals coding properties of trigeminal ganglion neurons in the rat vibrissal system", eLife, vol. 5, pp. e13969, Jun-27-2016. Google Scholar 

Belli, H., A. E. T. Yang, C. S. Bresee, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Variations in vibrissal geometry across the rat mystacial pad: base diameter, medulla, and taper", Journal of Neurophysiology, pp. jn.00054.2016, Nov-11-2016. Google Scholar 

Yu, Y. S. W., M. M. Graff, C. S. Bresee, Y. B. Man, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Whiskers aid anemotaxis in rats", Science Advances, vol. 2, issue 8, pp. e1600716, Aug-24-2016. Google Scholar

Kaloti, A. S., E. C. Johnson, C. S. Bresee, S. N. Naufel, M. G. Perich, D. L. Jones, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Representation of Stimulus Speed and Direction in Vibrissal-Sensitive Regions of the Trigeminal Nuclei: A Comparison of Single Unit and Population Responses", PLOS ONE, vol. 11, issue 7, pp. e0158399, Jul-27-2016. Google Scholar 

Yang, A. E. T., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Whisking Kinematics Enables Object Localization in Head-Centered Coordinates Based on Tactile Information from a Single Vibrissa", Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 10, pp. Article 145, Jul-19-2016. Google Scholar 

Huet, L. A., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Simulations of a Vibrissa Slipping along a Straight Edge and an Analysis of Frictional Effects during Whisking", IEEE Transactions on Haptics, pp. 158-169, Jan-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Spatiotemporal Patterns of Contact Across the Rat Vibrissal Array During Exploratory Behavior", Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 9, May-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Evidence for Functional Groupings of Vibrissae across the Rodent Mystacial Pad", PLOS Computational Biology, vol. 12, issue 1, pp. e1004109, Aug-01-2016. Google Scholar 

Yu, Y. S. W., M. M. Graff, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Mechanical responses of rat vibrissae to airflow", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 219, issue 7, pp. 937 - 948, Jan-04-2016. Google Scholar

2015

Hobbs, J. A., R. B. Towal, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Probability distributions of whisker-surface contact: quantifying elements of the rat vibrissotactile natural scene", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, issue 16, pp. 2551 - 2562, Jan-08-2015. Google Scholar 

Huet, L. A., C. L. Schroeder, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Tactile signals transmitted by the vibrissa during active whisking behavior", Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 113, issue 10, pp. 3511 - 3518, Jan-06-2015. Google Scholar 

2014

Huet, L. A., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "The search space of the rat during whisking behavior", Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 217, issue 18, pp. 3365 - 3376, 09/2014. Google Scholar

Quist, B. W., V. Seghete, L. A. Huet, T. D. Murphey, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Modeling Forces and Moments at the Base of a Rat Vibrissa during Noncontact Whisking and Whisking against an Object", Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, issue 30, pp. 9828 - 9844, 07/2014. Google Scholar 

2013

Solomon, J. H., M. A. Locascio, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control for efficient 2D and 3D bipedal walking over rough terrain", Adaptive Behavior, vol. 21, issue 1, pp. 29 - 46, 02/2013. Google Scholar 

Hartmann, M. J. Z., and J. H. Solomon, "Systems, methods, and apparatus for reconstruction of 3-D object morphology, position, orientation and texture using an array of tactile sensors", , vol. US8504500 B2, no. US 12/847,822, 08/2013. Google Scholar 

2012

Schroeder, C. L., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Sensory prediction on a whiskered robot: A tactile analogy to" optic flow"", Frontiers in Neurorobotics, vol. 6: Frontiers, pp. 9, 10/2012. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., M. J. Z. Hartmann, and C. L. Schroeder, "Object profile sensing", , vol. US8109007 B2, no. US 12/455,389, 02/2012. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., M. A. Locascio, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control for efficient 2D and 3D bipedal walking over rough terrain", Adaptive Behavior: SAGE Publications, 2012. Google Scholar 

Tuna, C., J. H. Solomon, D. L. Jones, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Object shape recognition with artificial whiskers using tomographic reconstruction", Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP), 2012 IEEE International Conference on: IEEE, pp. 2537–2540, 2012. Google Scholar 

Locascio, M. A., J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Linear reactive control of three-dimensional bipedal walking in the presence of noise and uncertainty", Adaptive Behavior, issue 20: SAGE Publications, 2012. Google Scholar

Quist, B. W., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Mechanical signals at the base of a rat vibrissa: the effect of intrinsic vibrissa curvature and implications for tactile exploration", Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 107, no. 9: Am Physiological Soc, pp. 2298–2312, 2012. Google Scholar 

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Active sensing: Head and vibrissal velocity during exploratory behaviors of the rat", Frontiers in Sensing: Springer, pp. 209–224, 2012. Google Scholar 

2011

Hartmann, M. J. Z., "A night in the life of a rat: vibrissal mechanics and tactile exploration", Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1225, no. 1: Wiley Online Library, pp. 110–118, 2011. Google Scholar

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "B. Touch Active sensing: head and vibrissa I velocity during exploratory behaviors of the rat", Frontiers in Sensing: From Biology to Engineering: Springer, pp. 209, 2011. Google Scholar 

Quist, B. W., R. A. Faruqi, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Variation in Young's modulus along the length of a rat vibrissa", Journal of biomechanics: Elsevier, 2011. Google Scholar 

Solomon, J. H., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Radial distance determination in the rat vibrissal system and the effects of Weber's law", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 366, no. 1581: The Royal Society, pp. 3049–3057, 2011. Google Scholar 

Towal, R. B., B. W. Quist, V. Gopal, J. H. Solomon, and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "The morphology of the rat vibrissal array: a model for quantifying spatiotemporal patterns of whisker-object contact", PLoS computational biology, vol. 7, no. 4: Public Library of Science, pp. e1001120, 2011. Google Scholar 

2010

Solomon, J. H., and M. J. Z. Hartmann, "Extracting object contours with the sweep of a robotic whisker using torque information", The International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 29, no. 9: SAGE Publications, pp. 1233–1245, 2010. Google Scholar 

Solomon JH, Wisse M and Hartmann MJZ (2010) Fully interconnected, linear control for limit cycle walking. Adaptive Behavior 18:492-506. 

2009

Chiel HJ, Ting LH, Ekeberg O and Hartmann MJZ (2009) The brain in its body: motor control and sensing in a biomechanical context. Journal of Neuroscience 29:12807-12814.

Hartmann MJZ (2009) Active touch, exploratory movements, and sensory prediction. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49:681-690.

2008

Gopal V, Klosowiak JL, Jaeger R, Selimkhanov T and Hartmann MJZ (2008) Visualizing the invisible: the construction of three low-cost schlieren imaging systems for the undergraduate laboratory. European Journal of Physics 29:607-617.

Leung B, Pan Y, Schroeder C, Memik SO, Memik G and Hartmann MJZ (2008) Towards an 'early neural circuit simulator': a FPGA implementation of processing in the rat whisker system. 2008 International Conference on Field Programmable and Logic Applications, Vols 1 and 2 , Heidelberg, Germany 191-196. 

Quist BW and Hartmann MJZ (2008) A two-dimensional force sensor in the millinewton range for measuring vibrissal contacts. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 172:158-167. 

Solomon JH and Hartmann MJZ (2008) Artificial whiskers suitable for array implementation: accounting for lateral slip and surface friction. IEEE Transactions On Robotics 24:1157-1167. 

Towal RB and Hartmann MJZ (2008) Variability in velocity profiles during free-air whisking behavior of unrestrained rats. Journal of Neurophysiology 100:740-752. PDF ST1 SF1 SF2 SF3 SV1

2007

Birdwell JA, Solomon JH, Thajchayapong M, Taylor MA, Cheely M, Towal RB, Conradt J and Hartmann MJZ (2007) Biomechanical models for radial distance determination by the rat vibrissal system. Journal of Neurophysiology 98:2439-2455. N.B.: Due to a typesetting error, equation A14 is incorrect as published. It should be identical to the bottom half of equation 4 in the main text.

Gopal V and Hartmann MJZ (2007) Using hardware models to quantify sensory data acquisition across the rat vibrissal array. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 2:S135-S145.

2006

Reed K, Peshkin M, Hartmann M, Grabowecky M, Patton J and Vishton P (2006) Haptically linked dyads - are two motor-control systems better than one?. Psychological Science 17:365-366.

Reed KB, Peshkin M, Hartmann MJ, Patton J, Vishton PM and Grabowecky M (2006) Haptic cooperation between people, and between people and machines. 2006 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Vols 1-12, Beijing, China 2109-2114. 

Solomon JH and Hartmann MJ (2006) Robotic whiskers used to sense features. Nature 443:525. SI1 SV1

Towal RB and Hartmann MJ (2006) Right-left asymmetries in the whisking behavior of rats anticipate head movements. Journal of Neuroscience 26:8838-8846. SV1 SV2 SV3 SV4

2005

Lu H, Hartmann M and Bower J (2005) Correlations between Purkinje cell single-unit activity and simultaneously recorded field potentials in the immediately underlying granule cell layer. Journal of Neurophysiology 94:1849-1860. 

Reed K, Peshkin M, Hartmann M, Colgate J and Patton J (2005) Kinesthetic interaction. 2005 IEEE 9th International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, Chicago, IL 569-574.

Schultz A, Solomon J, Peshkin M and Hartmann M (2005) Multifunctional whisker arrays for distance detection, terrain mapping, and object feature extraction. 2005 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Vols 1-4 , Barcelona, Spain 2588-2593. 

2003

Hartmann M, Johnson N, Towal R and Assad C (2003) Mechanical characteristics of rat vibrissae: Resonant frequencies and damping in isolated whiskers and in the awake behaving animal. Journal of Neuroscience 23:6510-6519. 

Lewis M, Etienne-Cummings R, Hartmann M, Xu Z and Cohen A (2003) An in silico central pattern generator: silicon oscillator, coupling, entrainment, and physical computation. Biological Cybernetics 88:137-151.

2001

Assad C, Hartmann M and Lewis M (2001) Introduction to the special issue on biomorphic robotics. Autonomous Robots 11:195-200. 

Hartmann M (2001) Active sensing capabilities of the rat whisker system. Autonomous Robots 11:249-254.

Hartmann M and Bower J (2001) Tactile responses in the granule cell layer of cerebellar folium Crus IIa of freely behaving rats. Journal of Neuroscience 21:3549-3563.

Lewis M, Hartmann M, Etienne-Cummings R and Cohen A (2001) Control of a robot leg with an adaptive aVLSI CPG chip. Neurocomputing 38:1409-1421. 

2000

Hartmann M, Assad C, Rasnow B and Bower J (2000) Applications of video mixing and digital overlay to neuroethology. Methods - A Companion to Methods in Enzymology 21:385-391. 

Lewis M, Etienne-Cummings R, Hartmann M and Cohen A (2000) Toward biomorphic control using custom aVLSI CPG chips. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), San Francisco, CA .

1998

Hartmann M and Bower J (1998) Oscillatory activity in the cerebellar hemispheres of unrestrained rats. Journal of Neurophysiology 80:1598-1604.

1997

Rasnow B, Assad C, Hartmann M and Bower J (1997) Applications of multimedia computers and video mixing to neuroethology. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 76:83-91.

Science Bytes 

An overview of whisking and whisker mechanics is shown in this video from Science Bytes. The video explains some basic mechanical principles, such as how stiffness and distance affect how much the whisker bends. The video also describes how the bending of the whisker underlies the rat's extraordinary sensing capabilities and explains some connections to future developments in robotics.

Science Friday 

This interview and video from National Public Radio's program Science Friday explains some ways our laboratory is investigating the sense of touch and sensorimotor integration. When a whisker bends against an object, forces and torques are generated at the whisker base. By quantifying these mechanical signals we are able to begin to understand what information the brain is receiving.

General Public

Media, Tours, Public Talks

Work from our lab has been featured in several media outlets 

We also give tours to elementary, middle and high schools students. Each academic year, we reached out to a couple hundreds of students from different parts of the country, including high school students attending the National Student Leadership Conference, high school students from North Lawndale College Prep in Chicago, and incoming freshmen in Northwestern's EXCEL program.

Northwestern University Brain Awareness Outreach

NUIN PhD students Chris Bresee, Nick Bush, and Admir Resulaj all actively volunteer for Northwestern University Brain Awareness Outreach (NUBAO). NUBAO is an organization led by graduate students that puts on numerous events every year designed to engage and excite the public about the brain and neurosience research. NUBAO events include: the annual Brain Fair which usually attracts over 500 guests and involved over 80 volunteers, the annual Teachers Workshop where graduate students help Chicago Public School teachers bring neuroscience into their classrooms, and a seminar series at Walter Payton High School where graduate students give bi-monthly lectures about a neuroscience topic related to their own research. 

Robot Revolution at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

PhD Students Lucie Huet and Anne Yang are featured in one of the “Into the labs” video clips at Robot Revolution , on exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from May 21, 2015 to January 3, 2016. In the video, Lucie gives a brief introduction of our sensing robot inspired by rat whiskers.

National Robotics Week at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Mitra Hartmann gave a public talk titled "Rodents and Robots and Whiskers, Oh My!" during National Robotics week at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

K-12

Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work

Members in the Hartmann Lab volunteered in the 22nd annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, which was open to friends and relatives ages 8 through 16 of Northwestern University faculty and staff members. Our lab presented the topic, "Touch & Movement: It’s electric!". We showed students how our nervous system communicates with electrical signals and how electrical stimulation relates to our sense of touch and ability to move about. The interactive setup ranged from sensing technologies to prosthetics to music.

Downers Grove North Lectures

On Mar 6 2015 and Mar 11 2016, PhD student Nick Bush was invited out to Downers Grove North High School to give talks to advanced high school biology students. This year he gave his lecture to 6 high school classes. The talk focused on the fundamentals of neural encoding and sensorimotor systems. The talk also describes the day to day responsibilities of researchers, and how to pursue a scientific career, with the hopes of inspiring incoming college students to get involved in research.

Mentorship Opportunities for Research Engagement

Graduate student Pravin Kumarappan is the communications coordinator for Mentorship Opportunities for Research Engagement (MORE) , an organization that provides graduate students and post-docs opportunities to mentor high school students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This organization grew out of the partnership with Niles West High School where students participate in high level STEM research under the mentorship of NU graduate students.

Career Day for Girls

PhD Students Chris Bresee, Lucie Huet, and Anne Yang gave laboratory tours during Career Day for Girls on February 28th, 2015 and February 27th, 2016. Students were shown rat whisking behaviors and simulations, robotic whisker controllers, and were able to look through a microscope to observe whisker follicles and muscles at high resolution. Career Day for Girls is held annually by McCormick and Society for Women Engineers. Each year about 300 middle school and high school students attended from the greater Chicago area.

Undergraduate

Northwestern Robotics Club

Prof. Mitra Hartmann is the faculty advisor to the Northwestern Robotics Club. The club has ~50 active members who work on a variety of projects that range from constructing a robotic lacrosse goalie to participating in the University Rover Challenge. The club also holds workshops and classes for beginning students, for example, in 2014-15 the club held tutorials on 3D printing, basic electronic circuits, and ROS programming. Visit us on FacebookTwitter

Excel Leadership Program

PhD Students Lucie Huet and Hayley Belli were mentors for Northwestern's Excel Leadership Program. The Northwestern EXCEL program, run in conjunction with BioEXCEL and ChemEXCEL, invites incoming mechanical engineering freshmen from underrepresented populations to experience Northwestern for a summer, where they live in the dorms and take versions of the courses they will take in the fall. Lucie and Hayley designed and co-taught the Engineering Analysis I (EA1) course.PhD student Nick Bush co-presents with Stephanie Naufel from BME for the bioEXCEL group. This presentation focuses on the fundamentals of how the brain and nervous system take in information from its surrounding – specifically through touch—and subsequently creates motor commands to elicit movements. The talk focuses on the electrical properties of the nervous system.

Undergraduate Mentoring and Advising

PhD Student Lucie Huet mentored an undergraduate mechanical engineering student from the student’s sophomore year through her senior year at Northwestern. They were paired through the Northwestern University chapter of the Society for Women Engineers, and they met regularly to discuss all aspects of undergraduate and graduate student engineering life and academics.PhD Student Hayley Belli serves as the Assistant Master at Slivka Residential College for Science and Engineering. In this role, Hayley plans STEM-related academic and social programming for current Northwestern University undergraduate students.

Graduate

McCormick Graduate Leadership Council

PhD Student Hayley Belli volunteers with the McCormick Graduate Leadership Council (MGLC), which organizes social, academic, and professional development opportunities for Master’s and PhD students in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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