Development in a Biologically Inspired Spinal Neural Network for Movement Control
van Heijst, J.J.
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In two phases, we develop neural network models of spinal circuitry which self-organises into networks with opponent channels for the control of an antagonistic muscle pair. The self-organisation is enabled by spontaneous activity present in the spinal cord. We show that after the process of self-organisation, the networks have developed the possibility to independently control the length and tension of the innerated muscles. This allows the specification of joint angle independent from the specification of joint stiffness. The first network comprises only motorneurons and inhibitory interneurons through which the two channels interact. The inhibitory interneurons prevent saturation of the motorneuron pools, which is a necessary condition for independent control. In the second network, however, the neurons in the motorneuron pools obey the size-principle, which is a threat to the desired invariance of joint angle for varying joint stiffness, because of the different amplification of inputs in the case these inputs are not equal. To restore the desired invariance the second network ha.s been expanded with Renshaw cells. The manner in which they are included in the circuitry corrects the problem caused by the addition of the size-principle. The results obtained from the two models compare favourably with the FLETE-model for spinal circuitry (Bullock & Grossberg, 1991; Bullock et al., HJ93; Bullock & Contreras-Vidal, 1993) which has been successful in explaining several phenomena related to motor control.