[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study addresses mechanisms for the generation and selection of visual behaviors in anamniotes. To demonstrate the function of these mechanisms, we have constructed an experimental platform where a simulated animal swims around in a virtual environment containing visually detectable objects. The simulated animal moves as a result of simulated mechanical forces between the water and its body. The undulations of the body are generated by contraction of simulated muscles attached to realistic body components. Muscles are driven by simulated motoneurons within networks of central pattern generators. Reticulospinal neurons, which drive the spinal pattern generators, are in turn driven directly and indirectly by visuomotor centers in the brainstem. The neural networks representing visuomotor centers receive sensory input from a simplified retina. The model also includes major components of the basal ganglia, as these are hypothesized to be key components in behavior selection. We have hypothesized that sensorimotor transformation in tectum and pretectum transforms the place-coded retinal information into rate-coded turning commands in the reticulospinal neurons via a recruitment network mimicking the layered structure of tectal areas. Via engagement of the basal ganglia, the system proves to be capable of selecting among several possible responses, even if exposed to conflicting stimuli. The anatomically based structure of the control system makes it possible to disconnect different neural components, yielding concrete predictions of how animals with corresponding lesions would behave. The model confirms that the neural networks identified in the lamprey are capable of responding appropriately to simple, multiple, and conflicting stimuli.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Biological Cybernetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here, we investigate the role of sensory feedback in gait generation and transition by using a three-dimensional, neuro-musculo-mechanical model of a salamander with realistic physical parameters. Activation of limb and axial muscles were driven by neural output patterns obtained from a central pattern generator (CPG) which is composed of simulated spiking neurons with adaptation. The CPG consists of a body-CPG and four limb-CPGs that are interconnected via synapses both ipsilaterally and contralaterally. We use the model both with and without sensory modulation and four different combinations of ipsilateral and contralateral coupling between the limb-CPGs. We found that the proprioceptive sensory inputs are essential in obtaining a coordinated lateral sequence walking gait (walking). The sensory feedback includes the signals coming from the stretch receptor like intraspinal neurons located in the girdle regions and the limb stretch receptors residing in the hip and scapula regions of the salamander. On the other hand, walking trot gait (trotting) is more under central (CPG) influence compared to that of the peripheral or sensory feedback. We found that the gait transition from walking to trotting can be induced by increased activity of the descending drive coming from the mesencephalic locomotor region and is helped by the sensory inputs at the hip and scapula regions detecting the late stance phase. More neurophysiological experiments are required to identify the precise type of mechanoreceptors in the salamander and the neural mechanisms mediating the sensory modulation.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Frontiers in Neurorobotics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The vertebrate central nervous system is organized in modules that independently execute sophisticated tasks. Such modules are flexibly controlled and operate with a considerable degree of autonomy. One example is locomotion generated by spinal central pattern generator networks (CPGs) that shape the detailed motor output. The level of activity is controlled from brainstem locomotor command centers, which in turn, are under the control of the basal ganglia. By using a biophysically detailed, full-scale computational model of the lamprey CPG (10,000 neurons) and its brainstem/forebrain control, we demonstrate general control principles that can adapt the network to different demands. Forward or backward locomotion and steering can be flexibly controlled by local synaptic effects limited to only the very rostral part of the network. Variability in response properties within each neuronal population is an essential feature and assures a constant phase delay along the cord for different locomotor speeds.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2009 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The different neural control systems involved in goal-directed vertebrate locomotion are reviewed. They include not only the central pattern generator networks in the spinal cord that generate the basic locomotor synergy and the brainstem command systems for locomotion but also the control systems for steering and control of body orientation (posture) and finally the neural structures responsible for determining which motor programs should be turned on in a given instant. The role of the basal ganglia is considered in this context. The review summarizes the available information from a general vertebrate perspective, but specific examples are often derived from the lamprey, which provides the most detailed information when considering cellular and network perspectives.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · Brain Research Reviews
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lamprey is one of the few vertebrates in which the neural control system for goal-directed locomotion including steering and control of body orientation is well described at a cellular level. In this report we review the modeling of the central pattern-generating network, which has been carried out based on detailed experimentation. In the same way the modeling of the control system for steering and control of body orientation is reviewed, including neuromechanical simulations and robotic devices.
No preview · Article · Feb 2007 · Progress in brain research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: If we are to understand how the brain performs different integrated functions in cellular terms, we need both to understand all relevant levels of analysis from the molecular to the behavioural and cognitive levels and to realize an integration of such levels. This is currently a major challenge for neuroscience. Most research, whether dealing with perception, action or learning, focuses on a few levels of organization, for instance the molecular level and brain imaging, and leaves other crucial areas practically untouched. To reach the level of understanding that we desire, a multi-level approach is required in which the different levels link into each other. It is possible to bridge across the different levels for one system, and this has been demonstrated, for example, in the lamprey in generation of goal-directed locomotion. It can be argued that an integrated analysis of any neural system cannot be performed without the aid of a close interaction between experiments and modelling. The dynamic processing within any neural system is such that an intuitive interpretation is rarely sufficient.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2005 · Current Opinion in Neurobiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The spinal CPG of the lamprey is modeled using a chain of nonlinear oscillators. Each oscillator represents a small neuron population capable of bursting under mixed NMDA and AMPA drive. Parameters of the oscillator are derived from detailed conductance-based neuron models. Analysis and simulations of dynamics of a single oscillator, a chain of locally coupled excitatory oscillators and a chain of two pairs of excitatory and inhibitory oscillators in each segment are done. The roles of asymmetric couplings and additional rostral drive for generation of a traveling wave with one cycle per chain length in a realistic frequency range are studied.