Animals utilize a number of neuronal systems to produce locomotion. One type of sensory organ that contributes in insects is the campaniform sensillum (CS) that measures the load on their legs. Groups of the receptors are found on high stress regions of the leg exoskeleton and they have significant effects in adapting walking behavior. Recording from these sensors in freely moving animals is limited by technical constraints. To better understand the load feedback signaled by CS to the nervous system, we have constructed a dynamically scaled robotic model of the Carausius morosus stick insect middle leg. The leg steps on a treadmill and supports weight during stance to simulate body weight. Strain gauges were mounted in the same positions and orientations as four key CS groups (Groups 3, 4, 6B, and 6A). Continuous data from the strain gauges were processed through a previously published dynamic computational model of CS discharge. Our experiments suggest that under different stepping conditions (e.g., changing “body” weight, phasic load stimuli, slipping foot), the CS sensory discharge robustly signals increases in force, such as at the beginning of stance, and decreases in force, such as at the end of stance or when the foot slips. Such signals would be crucial for an insect or robot to maintain intra- and inter-leg coordination while walking over extreme terrain.more » « less
Load sensing is critical for walking behavior in animals, who have evolved a number of sensory organs and neural systems to improve their agility. In particular, insects measure load on their legs using campaniform sensilla (CS), sensory neurons in the cuticle of high-stress portions of the leg. Extracellular recordings from these sensors in a behaving animal are difficult to collect due to interference from muscle potentials, and some CS groups are largely inaccessible due to their placement on the leg. To better understand what loads the insect leg experiences and what sensory feedback the nervous system may receive during walking, we constructed a dynamically-scaled robotic model of the leg of the stick insect Carausius morosus. We affixed strain gauges in the same positions and orientations as the major CS groups on the leg, i.e., 3, 4, 6A, and 6B. The robotic leg was mounted to a vertically-sliding linear guide and stepped on a treadmill to simulate walking. Data from the strain gauges was run through a dynamic model of CS discharge developed in a previous study. Our experiments reveal stereotypical loading patterns experienced by the leg, even as its weight and joint stiffness is altered. Furthermore, our simulated CS strongly signal the beginning and end of stance phase, two key events in the coordination of walking. more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Hunt, Alexander; Vouloutsi, Vasiliki; Moses, Kenneth; Quinn, Roger; Mura, Anna; Prescott, Tony; Verschure, Paul F.
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems. Living Machines 2022.
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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