Neural Control of Interlimb Coordination and Gait Timing in Bipeds and Quadrupeds
Cohen, Michael A.
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1) A large body of behavioral data conceming animal and human gaits and gait transitions is simulated as emergent properties of a central pattern generator (CPG) model. The CPG model incorporates neurons obeying Hodgkin-Huxley type dynamics that interact via an on-center off-surround anatomy whose excitatory signals operate on a faster time scale than their inhibitory signals. A descending cornmand or arousal signal called a GO signal activates the gaits and controL their transitions. The GO signal and the CPG model are compared with neural data from globus pallidus and spinal cord, among other brain structures. 2) Data from human bimanual finger coordination tasks are simulated in which anti-phase oscillations at low frequencies spontaneously switch to in-phase oscillations at high frequencies, in-phase oscillations can be performed both at low and high frequencies, phase fluctuations occur at the anti-phase in-phase transition, and a "seagull effect" of larger errors occurs at intermediate phases. When driven by environmental patterns with intermediate phase relationships, the model's output exhibits a tendency to slip toward purely in-phase and anti-phase relationships as observed in humans subjects. 3) Quadruped vertebrate gaits, including the amble, the walk, all three pairwise gaits (trot, pace, and gallop) and the pronk are simulated. Rapid gait transitions are simulated in the order--walk, trot, pace, and gallop--that occurs in the cat, along with the observed increase in oscillation frequency. 4) Precise control of quadruped gait switching is achieved in the model by using GO-dependent modulation of the model's inhibitory interactions. This generates a different functional connectivity in a single CPG at different arousal levels. Such task-specific modulation of functional connectivity in neural pattern generators has been experimentally reported in invertebrates. Phase-dependent modulation of reflex gain has been observed in cats. A role for state-dependent modulation is herein predicted to occur in vertebrates for precise control of phase transitions from one gait to another. 5) The primary human gaits (the walk and the run) and elephant gaits (the amble and the walk) are sirnulated. Although these two gaits are qualitatively different, they both have the same limb order and may exhibit oscillation frequencies that overlap. The CPG model simulates the walk and the run by generating oscillations which exhibit the same phase relationships. but qualitatively different waveform shapes, at different GO signal levels. The fraction of each cycle that activity is above threshold quantitatively distinguishes the two gaits, much as the duty cycles of the feet are longer in the walk than in the run. 6) A key model properly concerns the ability of a single model CPG, that obeys a fixed set of opponent processing equations to generate both in-phase and anti-phase oscillations at different arousal levels. Phase transitions from either in-phase to anti-phase oscillations, or from anti-phase to in-phase oscillations, can occur in different parameter ranges, as the GO signal increases.