Past Event

BME Seminar: Mitra Hartmann, Ph.D., Northwestern University

March 4, 2022
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Mudd Hall, 500 W. 120 St., New York, NY 10027 833

On Friday, March 4th @ 11:00AM ET, we welcome Prof. Mitra Hartmann from Northwestern University as she presents, "Building a rat from the outside in: sensory signals, neural coding, and sensor motion."


Building a rat from the outside in: sensory signals, neural coding, and sensor motion

Many rodents use active motions of their facial vibrissae (whiskers) to tactually explore the environment. Our laboratory uses this “whisking” behavior as a model to study how animal nervous systems actively gather and process complex sensorimotor information. There are no sensors along the length of each whisker, so a whisking animal must form a three-dimensional (3D) tactile impression of the environment based on mechanical signals at the whisker bases. In this talk, I will describe studies that examine how a rodent might use information about whisker bending to extract the 3D contour of an object, and how primary sensory neurons of the trigeminal ganglion (Vg) represent these mechanical signals. Analysis of the neural activity suggests that individual Vg neurons simultaneously represent multiple mechanical features of a given stimulus, and that the neurons employ a distributed code to account for all available mechanical information. These results are guiding our development of simulation systems for whisking mechanics and whisking robots.



Mitra J. Z. Hartmann, Ph.D., Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University

Mitra Hartmann received a Bachelor of Science in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University, a PhD in Integrative Neuroscience from the California Institute of Technology, and worked as a post-doctoral scholar at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Bio-Inspired Technology and Systems group. Dr. Hartmann is currently a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University with a 50-50 joint appointment between the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Biomedical Engineering department and an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).



The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University is proud to host an annual weekly seminar series on the latest developments and research in Biomedical Engineering. The weekly series takes place on Friday mornings at 11:00AM Eastern and includes a variety of renowned academics from top universities to talk about their specific research and experience. This is a hybrid event.

Contact Information

Alexis Newman