Crossmodal Pattern Discrimination in Humans and Robots: A Visuo-Tactile Case Study

Focko Higgen , Philipp Ruppel , Michael Görner , Matthias Kerzel , Norman Hendrich , Jan Feldheim , Stefan Wermter , Jianwei Zhang , Christian Gerloff
Frontiers in Neurorobotics pages submitted, doi: 10.1101/775403 - Sep 2019
Associated documents :  
The quality of crossmodal perception hinges on two factors: The accuracy of the independent unimodal perception and the ability to integrate information from different sensory systems. In humans, the ability for cognitively demanding crossmodal perception diminishes from young to old age. To research to which degree impediments of these two abilities contribute to the age-related decline and to evaluate how this might apply to artificial systems, we replicate a medical study on visuo-tactile crossmodal pattern discrimination utilizing state-of-the-art tactile sensing technology and artificial neural networks. We explore the perception of each modality in isolation as well as the crossmodal integration. We show that in an artificial system the integration of complex high-level unimodal features outperforms the comparison of independent unimodal classifications at low stimulus intensities where errors frequently occur. In comparison to humans, the artificial system outperforms older participants in the unimodal as well as the crossmodal condition. However, compared to younger participants, the artificial system performs worse at low stimulus intensities. Younger participants seem to employ more efficient crossmodal integration mechanisms than modelled in the proposed artificial neural networks. Our work creates a bridge between neurological research and embodied artificial neurocognitive systems and demonstrates how collaborative research might help to derive hypotheses from the allied field. Our results indicate that empirically-derived neurocognitive models can inform the design of future neurocomputational architectures. For crossmodal processing, sensory integration on lower hierarchical levels, as suggested for efficient processing in the human brain, seems to improve the performance of artificial neural networks.


 	 author =  {Higgen, Focko and Ruppel, Philipp and Görner, Michael and Kerzel, Matthias and Hendrich, Norman and Feldheim, Jan and Wermter, Stefan and Zhang, Jianwei and Gerloff, Christian},  
 	 title = {Crossmodal Pattern Discrimination in Humans and Robots: A Visuo-Tactile Case Study}, 
 	 journal = {Frontiers in Neurorobotics},
 	 number = {},
 	 volume = {},
 	 pages = {submitted},
 	 year = {2019},
 	 month = {Sep},
 	 publisher = {},
 	 doi = {10.1101/775403},