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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:

    • 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. Presently contributions to the Encyclopedia are by invitation from the editors. Once the initial structure of the Encyclopedia has been developed other modes for proposing new articles (e.g. by election) will be made available.

    Current agreed contributors to the Encyclopedia include: Lazlo Acsady (Vibrissal thalamic gating), Ehud Ahissar(Vibrissal location decoding), Kevin Alloway (Vibrissal basal ganglia circuits, Vibrissal cortices interconnectivity), Ehsan Arabzadeh (Vibrissal texture decoding), Steven Barlow (Orofacial touch), Fredrich Barth (Tactile sensing in Arachnids), Sliman Bensmaia (Texture from touch), Michael Brecht (Vibrissal encoding by cortical spikes), Manuel Castro-Alamancos (Vibrissal thalamic modes), Kenneth Catania (Tactile sensing in the Star-nosed Mole), Elaine Chapman (Tactile suppression), Chris Comer (Tactile sensing in the Naked Mole Rat), Guido Dehnhardt (Vibrissal touch in seals), Stuart Derbyshire (Painful touch), Martin Deschenes (Vibrissal afferents from trigeminus to cortices), Mathew Diamond (Vibrissal texture decoding), Chris Dijkerman (Central touch disorders), Volker Duerr (Stick insect antennae), Ford Ebner (Vibrissal paralemniscal loops), Andreas Engel (S1 high-frequency activity)< Dirk Feldmeyer (S1 microcircuits), Andrew French (Invertebrate mechanoreception), Mitch Glickstein and Ned Jenkinson (Vibrissal cerebellar loops), David Golomb (Vibrissal thalamic circuits), Miriam Goodman (Molecular basis of touch), Mitra Hartmann (Vibrissa mechanical properties), Vincent Hayward (Tactile illusions), Morton Heller (Visually-impaired touch), Steve Hsiao (Fingertip transducers), Mark Jacquin (Vibrissal brainstem microcircuits), Lynette Jones (Thermal touch), Jon Kaas (Primate S1 cortex), Astrid Kappers (Shape from touch), Asaf Keller (Vibrissal midbrain loops), Catherine Kerr (Therapeutic touch), Shigeru Kitazawa (Tactile temporal order), Roberta Klatzky (Haptic exploration), David Kleinfeld (Vibrissa sensorimotor system, S1 integration of position and contact), Ilan Lampl (Cortical balance of inhibition and excitation), Ellen Lumpkin (Mammalian mechanoreception), Francis McGlone (Emotional touch), Chris Moore (S1 somatotopic maps), Miguel Nicolelis (Vibrissal coding in hippocampus), Quoc-Thang Nguyen (Vibrissal brainstem loop functions), Jiro Okada(Cockroach antennae), Martin Pearson (Whiskered robots), Carl Petersen (Cortical sensorimotor signal flow), Tony Pipe (Whiskered robots), Tony Prescott (Vibrissal behavior and function), Vilayanur Ramachandran (Phantom touch), Roger Reep (Tactile hair in Manatees), Krish Sathian (Touch-vision integration), Cornelius Schwarz (Whisking control by motor cortex), Phil Servos (Imaging human touch), Daniel Shulz (S1 long-term plasticity), Dan Simons (Vibrissal thalamocortical transformations, Vibrissal lemniscal circuits), Madayam Srinivasan (Biomechanics of touch), Jochen Staiger (S1 laminar specialization), Jean Louis Thonnard (Development of touch), Michael Turvey (Dynamic touch), Martin Wells and Frank Grasso (Tactile sensing in the octopus), Jamie Ward (Observed touch), Johan Wessberg (Skin transducers), Lawrence Wineski (Whisking musculature), Alan Wing (Tactile control of balance), Thomas Woolsey (S1 comparative structure), Phil Zeigler (Whisking pattern generation).


    Cutaneous Touch

    Vibrissal Touch

    Comparative Touch

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