In 2010, the Schools of Psychology and Computer Science established a new Centre for “Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics” backed by a substantial University investment. Its aims are to conduct interdisciplinary research spanning neuroscience and robotics and to bring the fruits of this to bear on rehabilitation. Two years of development have resulted in recruitment of six permanent academics, with 2 new professors, a senior lecturer and three lecturers in place across the two schools. We have already established a joint Masters course (Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics MRes), and staff in the Centre will be contributing to both undergraduate and graduate training programmes, while the first cohort of PhD students starts in October.
Research in the Centre is flourishing, and we are delighted to announce that we have secured more than €5.5M in funds coming into the University as part of five European research projects. One of these is an ERC Starting Grant worth €1.5M awarded to Professor Uta Noppeney, to study how different sensory streams of information are integrated and combined in the human brain. Others aim to develop robots that can plan intelligent behaviour in complex human environments, and to allow robots to safely interact with soft objects – including people. Other projects will study how we grasp objects and will measure collaborative exchanges of objects and tools between human and robots, while other studies will use robots as test beds for computer models of human actions. And there is a new 3 year project to use smart training algorithms to optimize the recovery of limb movements in stroke patients, working on a robotic exercise machine.