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Contact

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. Daniel Braun

Address: Spemannstr. 38
72076 Tübingen
Room number: 006
Phone: +49 7071 601 618
Fax: +49 7071 601 616
E-Mail: daniel.braun

 

Picture of Braun, Daniel, Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr.

Daniel Braun

Position: Research Group Leader  Unit: Braun

One of the most striking features that sets human motor control apart from its robotic counterparts is the remarkable adaptability that allows us to cope with a vast range of complex and variable environments. The research goal of our group is to investigate the computational and biological principles underlying this unrivalled adaptability both experimentally and theoretically. In behavioural experiments, virtual reality technology allows us to expose human subjects to diverse, novel and possibly complex environments. Our aim is to study how the human motor system exploits the structure and the causal dependencies in such environments to enhance adaptation and to integrate information for action. These experimental studies are backed up by theoretical investigations of normative principles for adaptive control to explain the observed behaviours under special consideration of the bounded resources of the actors.


The interests of the research group can be broken down into three sub-projects:

 

(A) Structural learning and causal inference in motor control

 

In our previous studies we have provided first evidence for structural learning processes in human motor control, as we could show that the motor system extracts (abstract) invariants when faced with a range of variable environments that share certain structural features. However, many questions remain open that still need to be addressed, including the basic experimental protocol. In particular, more quantitative experiments are needed to understand the computational principles behind structural motor learning. This also requires the development of computational models that allow for quantitative predictions of structural learning and causal inference in human motor control.

 

(B) Neuro-economical principles in motor control and learning

 

In our previous studies we have investigated the effects of risk-sensitivity and two-player interaction on motor control. We could show that risk-sensitive subjects are not only evaluating the expected value of a movement, but also consider second-order moments of the uncertainty and act either optimistically (risk-seeking) or pessimistically (risk-aversive) with respect to this risk. In a set of two-player motor interaction experiments, we could show that subjects’ motor behavior naturally converged to so-called Nash solutions that describe rational strategies in game theory. Both risk and the presence of another actor are important neuroeconomic constraints both experimentally and in normative models of acting. However, important open questions remain about how uncertainty over different structures ("model uncertainty") is integrated by human subjects, how sensory uncertainty is affected by risk-attitudes and how uncertainty over different states of information in two-player interactions affects sensorimotor behaviour.

 

(C) Resource-bounded principles of adaption and control

 

In our previous studies we have developed a Bayesian rule for adaptive control based on an information-theoretic compression principle and causal calculus. We have demonstrated the applicability of the new adaptive control framework for very general problem classes such as undiscounted Markov Decision Problems, adaptive linear quadratic control problems and bandit problems. Important open problems are applications to more complex environments requiring generic non-parametric controllers, and in particular the application to environments that are themselves adaptive, which leads to game-theoretic problems. We have also worked on a generalization of the information-theoretic compression principle to describe normative behavior in agents with bounded computational resources. We explore further in how far this compression principle can be exploited in the development of efficient algorithms for learning and control.

 

Education

 

  • 2014: Habilitation, Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany
  • 2011: Dr. phil., Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2008: Dr. rer. nat., Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2005: Dipl. Biol., Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2005: Dipl. Phys., Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany

 

Research Experience


  • from 2011: Emmy Noether Research Group Leader, Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics & Intelligent Systems, Tübingen, Germany
  • 2010 - 2011: Visiting Scientist, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2008 - 2010: Research Associate, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 2006 - 2008: Visiting PhD Student, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 2005 - 2006: PhD Student, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany

 

Honours & Awards


  • 2014: Teaching Award of the Graduate School for Neural Information Processing
  • 2011: DFG Emmy-Noether-scholarship
  • 2009: DAAD postdoctoral scholarship
  • 2009: Hans-Spemann-prize of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • 2006: PhD Scholarship Böhringer-Ingelheim-Fonds

 

 

 

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Articles (25):

Braun DA Person and Ortega PA Person (August-2014) Information-Theoretic Bounded Rationality and Optimality Entropy 16(8) 4662-4676.
Genewein T Person and Braun D Person (May-2014) Occam's Razor in sensorimotor learning Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 281(1783) 1-7.
Peng Z Person, Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (March-2014) Assessing randomness and complexity in human motion trajectories through analysis of symbolic sequences Frontiers in Human Neurosciencei 8(168) 1-13.
Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (March-2014) Generalized Thompson sampling for sequential decision-making and causal inference Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling 2(2) 1-23.
Braun D Person (October-2013) Structural learning Scholarpedia 8(10) 12312.
Grau-Moya J Person, Hez E Person, Pezzulo G and Braun DA Person (October-2013) The effect of model uncertainty on cooperation in sensorimotor interactions Journal of the Royal Society Interface 10(87) 1-11.
Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (May-2013) Thermodynamics as a theory of decision-making with information-processing costs Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A 469(2153) 1-18.
Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (October-2012) A sensorimotor paradigm for Bayesian model selection Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6(291) 1-16.
Grau-Moya J Person, Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (September-2012) Risk-Sensitivity in Bayesian Sensorimotor Integration PLoS Computational Biology 8(9) 1-7.
Turnham EJA , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (February-2012) Facilitation of learning induced by both random and gradual visuomotor task variation Journal of Neurophysiology 107(4) 1111-1122.
Braun DA Person, Ortega PA Person and Wolpert DM (June-2011) Motor coordination: when two have to act as one Experimental Brain Research 211(3-4) 631-641.
Braun DA Person, Aertsen A , Paz R , Vaadia E , Rotter S and Mehring C (June-2011) Online adaptation and over-trial learning in macaque visuomotor control Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 5(27) 1-9.
Nagengast AJ , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (June-2011) Risk sensitivity in a motor task with speed-accuracy trade-off Journal of Neurophysiology 105(6) 2668-2674.
Turnham EJA , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (March-2011) Inferring Visuomotor Priors for Sensorimotor Learning PLoS Computational Biology 7(3) 1-13.
Nagengast AJ , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (January-2011) Risk-sensitivity and the mean-variance trade-off: decision making in sensorimotor control Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 278(1716) 2325-2332.
Braun DA Person, Nagengast AJ and Wolpert DM (January-2011) Risk-sensitivity in sensorimotor control Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5(1) 1-10.
Nagengast AJ , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (July-2010) Risk-Sensitive Optimal Feedback Control Accounts for Sensorimotor Behavior under Uncertainty PLoS Computational Biology 6(7) 1-15.
Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (May-2010) A Minimum Relative Entropy Principle for Learning and Acting Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research 38(1) 475-511.
Braun DA Person, Waldert S , Aertsen A , Wolpert DM and Mehring C (January-2010) Structure Learning in a Sensorimotor Association Task PLoS ONE 5(1) 1-8.
Braun DA Person, Mehring C and Wolpert DM (January-2010) Structure learning in action Behavioural Brain Research 206(2) 157–165.
Braun DA Person, Ortega PA Person and Wolpert DM (August-2009) Nash Equilibria in Multi-Agent Motor Interactions PLoS Computational Biology 5(8) 1-8.
Nagengast AJ , Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (June-2009) Optimal Control Predicts Human Performance on Objects with Internal Degrees of Freedom PLoS Computational Biology 5(6) 1-15.
Braun DA Person, Aertsen A , Wolpert DM and Mehring C (May-2009) Learning Optimal Adaptation Strategies in Unpredictable Motor Tasks Journal of Neuroscience 29(20) 6472-6478.
Braun DA Person, Aertsen A , Wolpert DM and Mehring C (February-2009) Motor Task Variation Induces Structural Learning Current Biology 19(4) 352-357.
Braun DA Person and Wolpert DM (November-2007) Optimal Control: When Redundancy Matters Current Biology 17(22) R973–R975.

Conference papers (12):

Ortega PA Person, Braun DA Person and Tishby N (June-2014) Monte Carlo Methods for Exact & Efficient Solution of the Generalized Optimality Equations IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2014), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, 4322-4327.
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Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (December-2013) Abstraction in Decision-Makers with Limited Information Processing Capabilities NIPS 2013 Workshop Planning with Information Constraints for Control, Reinforcement Learning, Computational Neuroscience, Robotics and Games, 1-9.
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Grau-Moya J Person and Braun DA Person (December-2013) Bounded Rational Decision-Making in Changing Environments NIPS 2013 Workshop Planning with Information Constraints for Control, Reinforcement Learning, Computational Neuroscience, Robotics and Games, 1-9.
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Ortega PA Person, Grau-Moya J Person, Genewein T Person, Balduzzi D Person and Braun DA Person (April-2013) A Nonparametric Conjugate Prior Distribution for the Maximizing Argument of a Noisy Function In: Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 25, Twenty-Sixth Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2012), Curran, Red Hook, NY, USA, 3014-3022.
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Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (December-2012) Adaptive Coding of Actions and Observations NIPS Workshop on Information in Perception and Action 2012, 1-4.
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Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (July-2012) Free Energy and the Generalized Optimality Equations for Sequential Decision Making 10th European Workshop on Reinforcement Learning (EWRL 2012), 1-10.
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Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (August-2011) Information, utility and bounded rationality In: Artificial General Intelligence, Fourth International Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI 2011), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 269-274.
Ortega PA Person, Braun DA Person and Godsill S (August-2011) Reinforcement Learning and the Bayesian Control Rule In: Artificial General Intelligence, Fourth International Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI 2011), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 281-285.
Braun DA Person, Ortega PA Person, Theodorou E and Schaal S Person (April-2011) Path integral control and bounded rationality IEEE Symposium on Adaptive Dynamic Programming And Reinforcement Learning (ADPRL 2011), IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, 202-209.
Braun DA Person and Ortega PA Person (June-2010) A minimum relative entropy principle for adaptive control in linear quadratic regulators 7th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics (ICINCO 2010), SciTePress, 103-108.
Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (March-2010) A Bayesian rule for adaptive control based on causal interventions Third Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI 2010), Atlantis Press, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 121-126.
Ortega PA Person and Braun DA Person (March-2010) A conversion between utility and information Third Conference on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI 2010), Atlantis Press, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 115-120.

Posters (6):

Leibfried F Person, Grau-Moya J Person and Braun D Person (September-2014): Sensorimotor interactions as signaling games, 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (KogWis 2014), Tübingen, Germany, Cognitive Processing, 15(Supplement 1) S50-S51.
Peng Z Person, Genewein T Person and Braun D Person (October-2013): Towards assessing randomness and complexity in human motion trajectories, 14th Conference of Junior Neuroscientists of Tübingen (NeNa 2013), Schramberg, Germany.
Peng Z Person, Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (September-2013): Assessing randomness in human motion trajectories, Bernstein Conference 2013, Tübingen, Germany.
Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (September-2013): Occam's Razor in sensorimotor learning, Bernstein Conference 2013, Tübingen, Germany.
Leibfried F Person, Grau-Moya J Person and Braun DA Person (September-2013): Signaling in sensorimotor interactions, Bernstein Conference 2013, Tübingen, Germany.
Genewein T Person and Braun DA Person (June-28-2013): Bayesian Occam’s Razor for structure selection in human motor learning, RSS 2013 Workshop on Hierarchical and Structured Learning for Robotics, Berlin, Germany.
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Theses (1):

Braun DA Person: Philosophische Verwicklungen der neurobiologischen Bewusstseinsforschung, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, (January-2011). PhD thesis

Talks (1):

Braun D Person (September-28-2014) Invited Lecture: Signaling games in sensorimotor interactions, 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (KogWis 2014), Tübingen, Germany, Cognitive Processing, 15(Supplement 1) S11.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 23.09.2014