[Comp-neuro] PhD position on Neuromorphic Engineering, Robotics and Computational Neuroscience

Chiara Bartolozzi chiara.bartolozzi at iit.it
Mon Sep 5 12:50:23 CEST 2011

A PhD position integrating the fields of neuromorphic engineering, 
robotics and computational neuroscience is available at the Robotics 
Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department of the Italian Institute of 
Technology in the groups of Prof. Stefano Panzeri and Dr. Chiara 

Closing Date for applications is September 23rd 2011. Interested 
candidates are advised contact Stefano Panzeri (stefano.panzeri at iit.it 
<mailto:stefano.panzeri at iit.it>) and/or Chiara Bartolozzi 
(chiara.bartolozzi at iit.it) for further information before submitting an 

Call and details of the application procedure are available at the 
following link:

(Annex A4 - Theme 1.27)

Research theme:

*Information theoretic study of efficient multiple-modality sensing in 
humanoid robots*

Successful interaction of a robot with the external world requires 
combining the information from different senses such as vision, touch, 
or hearing, and selecting and combining the information from each sense 
with efferent copies generated by the robot ongoing action. While 
current humanoid robots are being endowed with sensors providing 
information from artificial retinas and ears, and from touch sensors as 
well as from proprioception (including position and force), it is not 
clear how to optimally extract information from these data and use it to 
select the appropriate action for example in a sensorimotor coordination 
task. This project aims at developing and using analytical methods based 
on information theory [1] to analyze the data collected by different 
arrays of sensors and to find out what combinations of multisensory 
parameters to extract information lend themselves to rapid and efficient 
extraction of relevant features of the external world. These algorithms 
have been used successfully to study how cortical neurons may transmit 
information about multisensory stimuli [2]. In the attempt to replicate 
biological perceptive skills, the robot platform used for the project is 
equipped with biologically inspired asynchronous event-driven visual 
sensors [3]. The above approach based on information theory will be then 
used to characterize the information content of the event-driven vision 
sensors and design an efficient strategy for extracting relevant 
information from visual and then multisensory data. A longer term aim of 
the project is also the understanding of how these multisensory 
parameters may be used for learning sensorimotor coordination in a 
complex humanoid robot (www.icub.org). The candidate should hold a 
degree in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or Computer Science, and 
have a keen interest in applying mathematical and numerical techniques 
to the study of robotics, as well as an interest in brain function.

The research will be will be supervised by Prof. Stefano Panzeri and Dr. 
Chiara Bartolozzi, and will be performed within the Neural Computation 
group led by Stefano Panzeri and the Cognitive Humanoids group at the 
Department of Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences of the Italian 
Institute of Technology. Research in the Neural Computation group aims 
at understanding the computations made by neurons to represent, process 
and exchange information.Research at the Cognitive humanoids group aims 
at developing cognitive robots able to learn from experience and 
interact naturally and efficiently with humans.

Selected Recent Relevant Publications

[1] Quian Quiroga R, Panzeri S (2009) Extracting information from 
neuronal populations: information theory and decoding approaches. Nature 
Reviews Neuroscience 10: 173-185

[2] Kayser C, Logothetis NK, Panzeri S (2010) Visual enhancement of the 
information representation in auditory cortex. Current Biology 20: 19-24

[3] P. Lichtsteiner, C. Posch and T. Delbruck (2008) A 128x128 120 dB 15 
?s latency asynchronous temporal contrast vision sensor. IEEE J. Solid 
State Circuits,2:43, 566--576

Location: The IIT is located in Genova, Italy, a charming seaside 
mediterranean city right in the middle of the beautiful Italian Riviera, 
with a vibrant cultural life and with a much more affordable cost of 
living than many other European cities.

The PhD programme has a duration of 3 years. The position is supported 
by a PhD Studentship amounting to 16500 euros / year, and there are no 
tuition fees for the candidate admitted to the PhD programme. The PhD 
funding scheme provides successful candidates with all the means needed 
to perform the research, including funds for travel to conferences and 
collaborating European laboratories, and state of the art computing 
equipment. The working language of the institute is English.

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