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2007


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Learning static Gestalt laws through dynamic experience

Ostrovsky, Y., Wulff, J., Sinha, P.

Journal of Vision, 7(9):315-315, ARVO, June 2007 (article)

Abstract
The Gestalt laws (Wertheimer 1923) are widely regarded as the rules that help us parse the world into objects. However, it is unclear as to how these laws are acquired by an infant's visual system. Classically, these “laws” have been presumed to be innate (Kellman and Spelke 1983). But, more recent work in infant development, showing the protracted time-course over which these grouping principles emerge (e.g., Johnson and Aslin 1995; Craton 1996), suggests that visual experience might play a role in their genesis. Specifically, our studies of patients with late-onset vision (Project Prakash; VSS 2006) and evidence from infant development both point to an early role of common motion cues for object grouping. Here we explore the possibility that the privileged status of motion in the developmental timeline is not happenstance, but rather serves to bootstrap the learning of static Gestalt cues. Our approach involves computational analyses of real-world motion sequences to investigate whether primitive optic flow information is correlated with static figural cues that could eventually come to serve as proxies for grouping in the form of Gestalt principles. We calculated local optic flow maps and then examined how similarity of motion across image patches co-varied with similarity of certain figural properties in static frames. Results indicate that patches with similar motion are much more likely to have similar luminance, color, and orientation as compared to patches with dissimilar motion vectors. This regularity suggests that, in principle, common motion extracted from dynamic visual experience can provide enough information to bootstrap region grouping based on luminance and color and contour continuation mechanisms in static scenes. These observations, coupled with the cited experimental studies, lend credence to the hypothesis that static Gestalt laws might be learned through a bootstrapping process based on early dynamic experience.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2007


link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Neuromotor prosthesis development
Neuromotor prosthesis development

Donoghue, J., Hochberg, L., Nurmikko, A., Black, M., Simeral, J., Friehs, G.

Medicine & Health Rhode Island, 90(1):12-15, January 2007 (article)

Abstract
Article describes a neuromotor prosthesis (NMP), in development at Brown University, that records human brain signals, decodes them, and transforms them into movement commands. An NMP is described as a system consisting of a neural interface, a decoding system, and a user interface, also called an effector; a closed-loop system would be completed by a feedback signal from the effector to the brain. The interface is based on neural spiking, a source of information-rich, rapid, complex control signals from the nervous system. The NMP described, named BrainGate, consists of a match-head sized platform with 100 thread-thin electrodes implanted just into the surface of the motor cortex where commands to move the hand emanate. Neural signals are decoded by a rack of computers that displays the resultant output as the motion of a cursor on a computer monitor. While computer cursor motion represents a form of virtual device control, this same command signal could be routed to a device to command motion of paralyzed muscles or the actions of prosthetic limbs. The researchers’ overall goal is the development of a fully implantable, wireless multi-neuron sensor for broad research, neural prosthetic, and human neurodiagnostic applications.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


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The new robotics - towards human-centered machines

Schaal, S.

HFSP Journal Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Research in the Life Sciences, 1(2):115-126, 2007, clmc (article)

Abstract
Research in robotics has moved away from its primary focus on industrial applications. The New Robotics is a vision that has been developed in past years by our own university and many other national and international research instiutions and addresses how increasingly more human-like robots can live among us and take over tasks where our current society has shortcomings. Elder care, physical therapy, child education, search and rescue, and general assistance in daily life situations are some of the examples that will benefit from the New Robotics in the near future. With these goals in mind, research for the New Robotics has to embrace a broad interdisciplinary approach, ranging from traditional mathematical issues of robotics to novel issues in psychology, neuroscience, and ethics. This paper outlines some of the important research problems that will need to be resolved to make the New Robotics a reality.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


On the spatial statistics of optical flow
On the spatial statistics of optical flow

Roth, S., Black, M. J.

International Journal of Computer Vision, 74(1):33-50, 2007 (article)

Abstract
We present an analysis of the spatial and temporal statistics of "natural" optical flow fields and a novel flow algorithm that exploits their spatial statistics. Training flow fields are constructed using range images of natural scenes and 3D camera motions recovered from hand-held and car-mounted video sequences. A detailed analysis of optical flow statistics in natural scenes is presented and machine learning methods are developed to learn a Markov random field model of optical flow. The prior probability of a flow field is formulated as a Field-of-Experts model that captures the spatial statistics in overlapping patches and is trained using contrastive divergence. This new optical flow prior is compared with previous robust priors and is incorporated into a recent, accurate algorithm for dense optical flow computation. Experiments with natural and synthetic sequences illustrate how the learned optical flow prior quantitatively improves flow accuracy and how it captures the rich spatial structure found in natural scene motion.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher [BibTex]


Assistive technology and robotic control using {MI} ensemble-based neural interface systems in humans with tetraplegia
Assistive technology and robotic control using MI ensemble-based neural interface systems in humans with tetraplegia

Donoghue, J. P., Nurmikko, A., Black, M. J., Hochberg, L.

Journal of Physiology, Special Issue on Brain Computer Interfaces, 579, pages: 603-611, 2007 (article)

Abstract
This review describes the rationale, early stage development, and initial human application of neural interface systems (NISs) for humans with paralysis. NISs are emerging medical devices designed to allowpersonswith paralysis to operate assistive technologies or to reanimatemuscles based upon a command signal that is obtained directly fromthe brain. Such systems require the development of sensors to detect brain signals, decoders to transformneural activity signals into a useful command, and an interface for the user.We review initial pilot trial results of an NIS that is based on an intracortical microelectrode sensor that derives control signals from the motor cortex.We review recent findings showing, first, that neurons engaged by movement intentions persist in motor cortex years after injury or disease to the motor system, and second, that signals derived from motor cortex can be used by persons with paralysis to operate a range of devices. We suggest that, with further development, this form of NIS holds promise as a useful new neurotechnology for those with limited motor function or communication.We also discuss the additional potential for neural sensors to be used in the diagnosis and management of various neurological conditions and as a new way to learn about human brain function.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]


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iCub - The Design and Realization of an Open Humanoid Platform for Cognitive and Neuroscience Research

Tsagarakis, N., Metta, G., Sandini, G., Vernon, D., Beira, R., Becchi, F., Righetti, L., Santos-Victor, J., Ijspeert, A., Carrozza, M., Caldwell, D.

Advanced Robotics, 21(10):1151-1175, 2007 (article)

Abstract
The development of robotic cognition and the advancement of understanding of human cognition form two of the current greatest challenges in robotics and neuroscience, respectively. The RobotCub project aims to develop an embodied robotic child (iCub) with the physical (height 90 cm and mass less than 23 kg) and ultimately cognitive abilities of a 2.5-year-old human child. The iCub will be a freely available open system which can be used by scientists in all cognate disciplines from developmental psychology to epigenetic robotics to enhance understanding of cognitive systems through the study of cognitive development. The iCub will be open both in software, but more importantly in all aspects of the hardware and mechanical design. In this paper the design of the mechanisms and structures forming the basic 'body' of the iCub are described. The papers considers kinematic structures dynamic design criteria, actuator specification and selection, and detailed mechanical and electronic design. The paper concludes with tests of the performance of sample joints, and comparison of these results with the design requirements and simulation projects.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2006


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Dynamic Hebbian learning in adaptive frequency oscillators

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Ijspeert, A.

Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 216(2):269-281, 2006 (article)

Abstract
Nonlinear oscillators are widely used in biology, physics and engineering for modeling and control. They are interesting because of their synchronization properties when coupled to other dynamical systems. In this paper, we propose a learning rule for oscillators which adapts their frequency to the frequency of any periodic or pseudo-periodic input signal. Learning is done in a dynamic way: it is part of the dynamical system and not an offline process. An interesting property of our model is that it is easily generalizable to a large class of oscillators, from phase oscillators to relaxation oscillators and strange attractors with a generic learning rule. One major feature of our learning rule is that the oscillators constructed can adapt their frequency without any signal processing or the need to specify a time window or similar free parameters. All the processing is embedded in the dynamics of the adaptive oscillator. The convergence of the learning is proved for the Hopf oscillator, then numerical experiments are carried out to explore the learning capabilities of the system. Finally, we generalize the learning rule to non-harmonic oscillators like relaxation oscillators and strange attractors.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2006


link (url) DOI [BibTex]


Bayesian population decoding of motor cortical activity using a {Kalman} filter
Bayesian population decoding of motor cortical activity using a Kalman filter

Wu, W., Gao, Y., Bienenstock, E., Donoghue, J. P., Black, M. J.

Neural Computation, 18(1):80-118, 2006 (article)

Abstract
Effective neural motor prostheses require a method for decoding neural activity representing desired movement. In particular, the accurate reconstruction of a continuous motion signal is necessary for the control of devices such as computer cursors, robots, or a patient's own paralyzed limbs. For such applications, we developed a real-time system that uses Bayesian inference techniques to estimate hand motion from the firing rates of multiple neurons. In this study, we used recordings that were previously made in the arm area of primary motor cortex in awake behaving monkeys using a chronically implanted multielectrode microarray. Bayesian inference involves computing the posterior probability of the hand motion conditioned on a sequence of observed firing rates; this is formulated in terms of the product of a likelihood and a prior. The likelihood term models the probability of firing rates given a particular hand motion. We found that a linear gaussian model could be used to approximate this likelihood and could be readily learned from a small amount of training data. The prior term defines a probabilistic model of hand kinematics and was also taken to be a linear gaussian model. Decoding was performed using a Kalman filter, which gives an efficient recursive method for Bayesian inference when the likelihood and prior are linear and gaussian. In off-line experiments, the Kalman filter reconstructions of hand trajectory were more accurate than previously reported results. The resulting decoding algorithm provides a principled probabilistic model of motor-cortical coding, decodes hand motion in real time, provides an estimate of uncertainty, and is straightforward to implement. Additionally the formulation unifies and extends previous models of neural coding while providing insights into the motor-cortical code.

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pdf preprint pdf from publisher abstract [BibTex]

pdf preprint pdf from publisher abstract [BibTex]


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Engineering Entrainment and Adaptation in Limit Cycle Systems – From biological inspiration to applications in robotics

Buchli, J., Righetti, L., Ijspeert, A.

Biological Cybernetics, 95(6):645-664, December 2006 (article)

Abstract
Periodic behavior is key to life and is observed in multiple instances and at multiple time scales in our metabolism, our natural environment, and our engineered environment. A natural way of modeling or generating periodic behavior is done by using oscillators, i.e., dynamical systems that exhibit limit cycle behavior. While there is extensive literature on methods to analyze such dynamical systems, much less work has been done on methods to synthesize an oscillator to exhibit some specific desired characteristics. The goal of this article is twofold: (1) to provide a framework for characterizing and designing oscillators and (2) to review how classes of well-known oscillators can be understood and related to this framework. The basis of the framework is to characterize oscillators in terms of their fundamental temporal and spatial behavior and in terms of properties that these two behaviors can be designed to exhibit. This focus on fundamental properties is important because it allows us to systematically compare a large variety of oscillators that might at first sight appear very different from each other. We identify several specifications that are useful for design, such as frequency-locking behavior, phase-locking behavior, and specific output signal shape. We also identify two classes of design methods by which these specifications can be met, namely offline methods and online methods. By relating these specifications to our framework and by presenting several examples of how oscillators have been designed in the literature, this article provides a useful methodology and toolbox for designing oscillators for a wide range of purposes. In particular, the focus on synthesis of limit cycle dynamical systems should be useful both for engineering and for computational modeling of physical or biological phenomena.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

1996


Estimating optical flow in segmented images using variable-order parametric models with local deformations
Estimating optical flow in segmented images using variable-order parametric models with local deformations

Black, M. J., Jepson, A.

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 18(10):972-986, October 1996 (article)

Abstract
This paper presents a new model for estimating optical flow based on the motion of planar regions plus local deformations. The approach exploits brightness information to organize and constrain the interpretation of the motion by using segmented regions of piecewise smooth brightness to hypothesize planar regions in the scene. Parametric flow models are estimated in these regions in a two step process which first computes a coarse fit and estimates the appropriate parameterization of the motion of the region (two, six, or eight parameters). The initial fit is refined using a generalization of the standard area-based regression approaches. Since the assumption of planarity is likely to be violated, we allow local deformations from the planar assumption in the same spirit as physically-based approaches which model shape using coarse parametric models plus local deformations. This parametric+deformation model exploits the strong constraints of parametric approaches while retaining the adaptive nature of regularization approaches. Experimental results on a variety of images indicate that the parametric+deformation model produces accurate flow estimates while the incorporation of brightness segmentation provides precise localization of motion boundaries.

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pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

1996


pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


On the unification of line processes, outlier rejection, and robust statistics with applications in early vision
On the unification of line processes, outlier rejection, and robust statistics with applications in early vision

Black, M., Rangarajan, A.

International Journal of Computer Vision , 19(1):57-92, July 1996 (article)

Abstract
The modeling of spatial discontinuities for problems such as surface recovery, segmentation, image reconstruction, and optical flow has been intensely studied in computer vision. While “line-process” models of discontinuities have received a great deal of attention, there has been recent interest in the use of robust statistical techniques to account for discontinuities. This paper unifies the two approaches. To achieve this we generalize the notion of a “line process” to that of an analog “outlier process” and show how a problem formulated in terms of outlier processes can be viewed in terms of robust statistics. We also characterize a class of robust statistical problems for which an equivalent outlier-process formulation exists and give a straightforward method for converting a robust estimation problem into an outlier-process formulation. We show how prior assumptions about the spatial structure of outliers can be expressed as constraints on the recovered analog outlier processes and how traditional continuation methods can be extended to the explicit outlier-process formulation. These results indicate that the outlier-process approach provides a general framework which subsumes the traditional line-process approaches as well as a wide class of robust estimation problems. Examples in surface reconstruction, image segmentation, and optical flow are presented to illustrate the use of outlier processes and to show how the relationship between outlier processes and robust statistics can be exploited. An appendix provides a catalog of common robust error norms and their equivalent outlier-process formulations.

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pdf pdf from publisher DOI [BibTex]


The robust estimation of multiple motions: Parametric and piecewise-smooth flow fields
The robust estimation of multiple motions: Parametric and piecewise-smooth flow fields

Black, M. J., Anandan, P.

Computer Vision and Image Understanding, 63(1):75-104, January 1996 (article)

Abstract
Most approaches for estimating optical flow assume that, within a finite image region, only a single motion is present. This single motion assumption is violated in common situations involving transparency, depth discontinuities, independently moving objects, shadows, and specular reflections. To robustly estimate optical flow, the single motion assumption must be relaxed. This paper presents a framework based on robust estimation that addresses violations of the brightness constancy and spatial smoothness assumptions caused by multiple motions. We show how the robust estimation framework can be applied to standard formulations of the optical flow problem thus reducing their sensitivity to violations of their underlying assumptions. The approach has been applied to three standard techniques for recovering optical flow: area-based regression, correlation, and regularization with motion discontinuities. This paper focuses on the recovery of multiple parametric motion models within a region, as well as the recovery of piecewise-smooth flow fields, and provides examples with natural and synthetic image sequences.

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pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]

pdf pdf from publisher [BibTex]


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A Kendama learning robot based on bi-directional theory

Miyamoto, H., Schaal, S., Gandolfo, F., Koike, Y., Osu, R., Nakano, E., Wada, Y., Kawato, M.

Neural Networks, 9(8):1281-1302, 1996, clmc (article)

Abstract
A general theory of movement-pattern perception based on bi-directional theory for sensory-motor integration can be used for motion capture and learning by watching in robotics. We demonstrate our methods using the game of Kendama, executed by the SARCOS Dextrous Slave Arm, which has a very similar kinematic structure to the human arm. Three ingredients have to be integrated for the successful execution of this task. The ingredients are (1) to extract via-points from a human movement trajectory using a forward-inverse relaxation model, (2) to treat via-points as a control variable while reconstructing the desired trajectory from all the via-points, and (3) to modify the via-points for successful execution. In order to test the validity of the via-point representation, we utilized a numerical model of the SARCOS arm, and examined the behavior of the system under several conditions.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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One-handed juggling: A dynamical approach to a rhythmic movement task

Schaal, S., Sternad, D., Atkeson, C. G.

Journal of Motor Behavior, 28(2):165-183, 1996, clmc (article)

Abstract
The skill of rhythmic juggling a ball on a racket is investigated from the viewpoint of nonlinear dynamics. The difference equations that model the dynamical system are analyzed by means of local and non-local stability analyses. These analyses yield that the task dynamics offer an economical juggling pattern which is stable even for open-loop actuator motion. For this pattern, two types of pre dictions are extracted: (i) Stable periodic bouncing is sufficiently characterized by a negative acceleration of the racket at the moment of impact with the ball; (ii) A nonlinear scaling relation maps different juggling trajectories onto one topologically equivalent dynamical system. The relevance of these results for the human control of action was evaluated in an experiment where subjects performed a comparable task of juggling a ball on a paddle. Task manipulations involved different juggling heights and gravity conditions of the ball. The predictions were confirmed: (i) For stable rhythmic performance the paddle's acceleration at impact is negative and fluctuations of the impact acceleration follow predictions from global stability analysis; (ii) For each subject, the realizations of juggling for the different experimental conditions are related by the scaling relation. These results allow the conclusion that for the given task, humans reliably exploit the stable solutions inherent to the dynamics of the task and do not overrule these dynamics by other control mechanisms. The dynamical scaling serves as an efficient principle to generate different movement realizations from only a few parameter changes and is discussed as a dynamical formalization of the principle of motor equivalence.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]