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Nat Neurosci. 2007 Oct;10(10):1329-36. Epub 2007 Sep 16.

Optimal sensorimotor transformations for balance.

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Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 313 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0535, USA.


Here we have identified a sensorimotor transformation that is used by a mammalian nervous system to produce a multijoint motor behavior. Using a simple biomechanical model, a delayed-feedback rule based on an optimal tradeoff between postural error and neural effort explained patterns of muscle activation in response to a sudden loss of balance in cats. Following the loss of large sensory afferents, changes in these muscle-activation patterns reflected an optimal reweighting of sensory feedback gains to minimize postural instability. Specifically, a loss of center-of-mass-acceleration information, which allowed for a rapid initial rise in the muscle activity in intact animals, was absent after large-fiber sensory neuropathy. Our results demonstrate that a simple and flexible neural feedback control strategy coordinates multiple muscles over time via a small set of extrinsic, task-level variables during complex multijoint natural movements.

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