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Section D

Behavioural Level


On the behavioural level, in research section D, we will ask: How can the interaction between neuronal motor control and high-dimensional movement kinematics generate smooth, precise, and effective hand and limb movements? Projects in this section will study the cooperative dynamics of motor systems and their adaptive behavioural control, and address fundamental problems in neuroprosthetics and movement planning as well as in biomechanics and rehabilitation in human patients. Studying robots and humans, projects D1 and D3 approach key open problems in the analysis of dynamic movement patterns. D1 (Manoonpong/Wörgötter/Parlitz) will explore novel neuronal control architectures in robots designed to improve adaptivity by implementing forward control mechanisms (efferent copies) and including predictive models (motor planning) to achieve a more flexible walking dynamics. In collaboration with our corporate partner Otto Bock HealthCare, D1 will systematically assess the potential of these control architectures for an improved control of prosthetic devices. Studying human subjects, project D3 (Biess/Scherberger) will push the limits of current movement planning theories in human planar hand movements. It aims to discriminate fundamentally different control strategies in this system by a precise assessment of motor noise, assess the quantitative phenomenology of a wide range of hand movement patterns and use it to construct a predictive model for periodic and discrete hand movements. These studies will provide high level descriptions and the engineering synthesis of the cooperative dynamics of movement planning and coordination. They will be complemented by neurophysiological studies of movement planning and control in projects D2 and D4. These projects building on excellent prior work by the groups of Gail and Scherberger will use non-human primate models to develop improved decoding strategies for cortical signals involved in reaching and grasping movements. Project D2 (Gail/Wörgötter) will study the impact of visuomotor adaptation on sensory-motor transformations underlying the planning and control of reach movements. Project D4 (Scherberger/Gail) will investigate how intentions to move the hand are generated in the brain of non-human primates and how these movement intentions can be decoded in real time for the control of an artificial hand. These projects in particular aim at innovations in cortical activity decoding that are indispensable for practical neuroprosthetics applications. As applies to sections A-C, research section D is characterized by manifold direct collaborations and synergies between the participating theoretical, experimental and engineering groups. It also has unique aspects among the research sections of BCCN-II: first it presents the most complex systems in which we are addressing the role of cooperative dynamics in neuronal adaptivity; secondly it is closely linked to current and future computational neuroscience applications in neuroprosthetics and rehabilitation.

Projects involved:

D1 - Biomechanics and adaptive neural control of animal and robot locomotion

Poramate Manoonpong, Florentin Wörgötter, and Ulrich Parlitz