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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1989;563:184-94.

Electromechanical analogs of human reflexes.

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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, New Jersey 08544.


The conclusion to be drawn from our modeling is that the combined stretch and tendon reflexes alone can endow artificial muscle with a springlike feel as well as give it a baseline tone. In response to questions that motor physiologists often ask as to what variables the system controls, the answer here is clear: the stretch and tendon reflexes act together to maintain both a tension set-point and a length set-point, but in so doing they also give the system a springlike feel because of the existence of a servo error. The main goal of our studies is to understand the integration of reflexes, and thus far we have only begun to explore the two lowest-level spinal reflexes. We are in the process of expanding this work by developing a much more refined arm explicitly modeled after the human arm. This new arm is to be activated by a minimum of 10 muscles, each of which is reflexively driven, and it will allow us to explore the integration of higher-level reflex action such as automatic inhibition of antagonists and facilitation of synergists.

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