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Title: Diversity-enabled sweet spots in layered architectures and speed–accuracy trade-offs in sensorimotor control

Nervous systems sense, communicate, compute, and actuate movement using distributed components with severe trade-offs in speed, accuracy, sparsity, noise, and saturation. Nevertheless, brains achieve remarkably fast, accurate, and robust control performance due to a highly effective layered control architecture. Here, we introduce a driving task to study how a mountain biker mitigates the immediate disturbance of trail bumps and responds to changes in trail direction. We manipulated the time delays and accuracy of the control input from the wheel as a surrogate for manipulating the characteristics of neurons in the control loop. The observed speed–accuracy trade-offs motivated a theoretical framework consisting of two layers of control loops—a fast, but inaccurate, reflexive layer that corrects for bumps and a slow, but accurate, planning layer that computes the trajectory to follow—each with components having diverse speeds and accuracies within each physical level, such as nerve bundles containing axons with a wide range of sizes. Our model explains why the errors from two control loops are additive and shows how the errors in each control loop can be decomposed into the errors caused by the limited speeds and accuracies of the components. These results demonstrate that an appropriate diversity in the properties of more » neurons across layers helps to create “diversity-enabled sweet spots,” so that both fast and accurate control is achieved using slow or inaccurate components.

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Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e1916367118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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