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- Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience
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- National Science Foundation
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Abstract Insects are highly capable walkers, but many questions remain regarding how the insect nervous system controls locomotion. One particular question is how information is communicated between the ‘lower level’ ventral nerve cord (VNC) and the ‘higher level’ head ganglia to facilitate control. In this work, we seek to explore this question by investigating how systems traditionally described as ‘positive feedback’ may initiate and maintain stepping in the VNC with limited information exchanged between lower and higher level centers. We focus on the ‘reflex reversal’ of the stick insect femur-tibia joint between a resistance reflex (RR) and an active reaction in response to joint flexion, as well as the activation of populations of descending dorsal median unpaired (desDUM) neurons from limb strain as our primary reflex loops. We present the development of a neuromechanical model of the stick insect ( Carausius morosus ) femur-tibia (FTi) and coxa-trochanter joint control networks ‘in-the-loop’ with a physical robotic limb. The control network generates motor commands for the robotic limb, whose motion and forces generate sensory feedback for the network. We based our network architecture on the anatomy of the non-spiking interneuron joint control network that controls the FTi joint, extrapolated network connectivity based on known muscle responses,more »
Existing models of human walking use low-level reflexes or neural oscillators to generate movement. While appropriate to generate the stable, rhythmic movement patterns of steady-state walking, these models lack the ability to change their movement patterns or spontaneously generate new movements in the specific, goal-directed way characteristic of voluntary movements. Here we present a neuromuscular model of human locomotion that bridges this gap and combines the ability to execute goal directed movements with the generation of stable, rhythmic movement patterns that are required for robust locomotion. The model represents goals for voluntary movements of the swing leg on the task level of swing leg joint kinematics. Smooth movements plans towards the goal configuration are generated on the task level and transformed into descending motor commands that execute the planned movements, using internal models. The movement goals and plans are updated in real time based on sensory feedback and task constraints. On the spinal level, the descending commands during the swing phase are integrated with a generic stretch reflex for each muscle. Stance leg control solely relies on dedicated spinal reflex pathways. Spinal reflexes stimulate Hill-type muscles that actuate a biomechanical model with eight internal joints and six free-body degreesmore »
Contribution of Afferent Feedback to Adaptive Hindlimb Walking in Cats: A Neuromusculoskeletal Modeling StudyMammalian locomotion is generated by central pattern generators (CPGs) in the spinal cord, which produce alternating flexor and extensor activities controlling the locomotor movements of each limb. Afferent feedback signals from the limbs are integrated by the CPGs to provide adaptive control of locomotion. Responses of CPG-generated neural activity to afferent feedback stimulation have been previously studied during fictive locomotion in immobilized cats. Yet, locomotion in awake, behaving animals involves dynamic interactions between central neuronal circuits, afferent feedback, musculoskeletal system, and environment. To study these complex interactions, we developed a model simulating interactions between a half-center CPG and the musculoskeletal system of a cat hindlimb. Then, we analyzed the role of afferent feedback in the locomotor adaptation from a dynamic viewpoint using the methods of dynamical systems theory and nullcline analysis. Our model reproduced limb movements during regular cat walking as well as adaptive changes of these movements when the foot steps into a hole. The model generates important insights into the mechanism for adaptive locomotion resulting from dynamic interactions between the CPG-based neural circuits, the musculoskeletal system, and the environment.
The American lobster, Homarus americanus, cardiac neuromuscular system is controlled by the cardiac ganglion (CG), a central pattern generator consisting of four premotor and five motor neurons. Here, we show that the premotor and motor neurons can establish independent bursting patterns when decoupled by a physical ligature. We also show that mRNA encoding myosuppressin, a cardioactive neuropeptide, is produced within the CG. We thus asked whether myosuppressin modulates the decoupled premotor and motor neurons, and if so, how this modulation might underlie the role(s) that these neurons play in myosuppressin’s effects on ganglionic output. Although myosuppressin exerted dose-dependent effects on burst frequency and duration in both premotor and motor neurons in the intact CG, its effects on the ligatured ganglion were more complex, with different effects and thresholds on the two types of neurons. These data suggest that the motor neurons are more important in determining the changes in frequency of the CG elicited by low concentrations of myosuppressin, whereas the premotor neurons have a greater impact on changes elicited in burst duration. A single putative myosuppressin receptor (MSR-I) was previously described from the Homarus nervous system. We identified four additional putative MSRs (MSR-II–V) and investigated their individual distributions inmore »
Neuronal circuits in the spinal cord are essential for the control of locomotion. They integrate supraspinal commands and afferent feedback signals to produce coordinated rhythmic muscle activations necessary for stable locomotion. For several decades, computational modeling has complemented experimental studies by providing a mechanistic rationale for experimental observations and by deriving experimentally testable predictions. This symbiotic relationship between experimental and computational approaches has resulted in numerous fundamental insights. With recent advances in molecular and genetic methods, it has become possible to manipulate specific constituent elements of the spinal circuitry and relate them to locomotor behavior. This has led to computational modeling studies investigating mechanisms at the level of genetically defined neuronal populations and their interactions. We review literature on the spinal locomotor circuitry from a computational perspective. By reviewing examples leading up to and in the age of molecular genetics, we demonstrate the importance of computational modeling and its interactions with experiments. Moving forward, neuromechanical models with neuronal circuitry modeled at the level of genetically defined neuronal populations will be required to further unravel the mechanisms by which neuronal interactions lead to locomotor behavior.