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    The aim of the Scholarpedia Encyclopedia of Touch is to provide a comprehensive set of articles, written by leading researchers and peer-reviewed by fellow scientists, detailing the current scientific understanding of tactile sensing and its neural substrates in animals including man. It is hoped that the encyclopedia will encourage sharing of ideas and insights between researchers working on different aspects of touch and in different species, including research in synthetic touch systems. In addition it is hoped that the encyclopedia will raise awareness of research in tactile sensing and promote increased scientific and public interest in the field. The Encyclopedia of Touch was part-sponsored by the European Union Framework 7 BIOTACT project (2008-2012), one of whose goals was to promote research in the fields of natural and synthetic tactile sensing. The encyclopedia is open to new contributions on any topic related to touch sensing in animals or artefacts.

    Scope and Structure

    The encyclopedia is structured in three sections:

    • Haptics and cutaneous touch: In primates and humans tactile sensing is primarily through the skin and particularly on sensory surfaces such as the fingertips and the lips where there is a high density of touch receptors.
    • Vibrissal touch: The tactile senses of many mammals are built around arrays of facial hairs known as whiskers or vibrissae. Research on vibrissal touch has focused on rodents and, in particular, on rats and mice. The vibrissal system in rodents is interesting in its own right but has also become an important model system in which to investigate and understanding mammalian sensory processing more generally.
    • Comparative touch: There are a large number of specialist tactile sensory organs in the animal kingdom. This section will contain articles on animal species that exhibit interesting or exceptional tactile sensing abilities.


    The Encyclopedia went online in February 2008 and was substantially revised and extended December 2014 to March 2015. Presently contributions to the Encyclopedia are by invitation from the editors but we are open to suggestions of new article from authors with relevant expertise. Current contributors to the Encyclopedia include:

    Ehud Ahissar (S1 laminar specialisation, Tactile object perception, Vibrissal location decoding), Kevin Alloway (Vibrissal basal ganglia circuits), Ehsan Arabzadeh (Vibrissal texture decoding), Friedrich Barth (The spider's tactile hairs), Sliman Bensmaia (Texture from touch), Michael Brecht (Vibrissal touch in the Etruscan shrew), Manuel Castro-Alamancos (Vibrissal thalamic modes), Elaine Chapman (Tactile suppression), Adrian Cheok (Virtual touch), Chris Comer (Tactile sensing in the Naked Mole Rat), Wolf Hanke & Guido Dehnhardt (Vibrissal touch in seals), Benoit Delhaye (Skin mechanics for dynamic touch), Stuart Derbyshire (Painful touch), Martin Deschenes (Vibrissal afferents from trigeminus to cortices), Chris Dijkerman (Central touch disorders), Mathew Diamond (Vibrissal texture decoding), Volker Duerr (Stick insect antennae), Dirk Feldmeyer (S1 microcircuits), Manuel Gomez-Ramirez (Tactile attention), Goren Gordon (Models of touch), Sebastian Haidarliu (Whisking musculature), Mitra Hartmann (Vibrissa mechanical properties), Vincent Hayward (Tactile illusions), Morton Heller (Visually-impaired touch), Lynette Jones (Thermal touch), Jon Kaas (Primate S1 cortex), Astrid Kappers (Shape from touch), Asaf Keller (Vibrissal midbrain loops), Yeongmi Kim & Matthais Harders (Haptic displays), Shigeru Kitazawa (Tactile temporal order), Roberta Klatzky (Haptic exploration), Per Knutsen (Whisking Kinematics), Ilan Lampl (Cortical balance of inhibition and excitation), Nathan Lepora (Active tactile perception), Ellen Lumpkin (Mammalian mechanoreception), Uriel Martinez (Tactile sensors), Ben Mitchinson (Vibrissal behaviour and function, Vibrissal tactile attention), Jiro Okada (Cockroach antennae), Martin Pearson (Whiskered robots), Tony Prescott & Robyn Grant (Vibrissal behavior and function), Vilayanur Ramachandran (Phantom touch), Roger Reep & Diana Sarko (Tactile hair in Manatees), Krish Sathian (Touch-vision integration), Cornelius Schwarz & Shubo Chakrabarti (Whisking control by motor cortex), Phil Servos (Imaging human touch), Daniel Shulz (S1 long-term plasticity), Jochen Staiger (S1 laminar specialization), Jean Louis Thonnard (Development of touch), Francois Tremblay (Touch in Ageing), Michael Turvey & Claudia Carello (Dynamic touch), Jamie Ward (Observed touch), Martin Wells and Frank Grasso (Tactile sensing in the octopus), Lon Wilkens & Frank Moss (Mechanoreceptors & stochastic resonance), Stuart Wilson & Chris Moore (S1 somatotopic maps), Alan Wing (Tactile control of balance), Phil Zeigler (Whisking pattern generation).


    Haptics & Cutaneous Touch

    Vibrissal Touch

    Comparative Touch

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