Impact Factor
This article is part of the Research Topic Neuroethology


Front. Behav. Neurosci., 14 July 2010 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00040

Neuromechanical simulation

  • Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

The importance of the interaction between the body and the brain for the control of behavior has been recognized in recent years with the advent of neuromechanics, a field in which the coupling between neural and biomechanical processes is an explicit focus. A major tool used in neuromechanics is simulation, which connects computational models of neural circuits to models of an animal’s body situated in a virtual physical world. This connection closes the feedback loop that links the brain, the body, and the world through sensory stimuli, muscle contractions, and body movement. Neuromechanical simulations enable investigators to explore the dynamical relationships between the brain, the body, and the world in ways that are difficult or impossible through experiment alone. Studies in a variety of animals have permitted the analysis of extremely complex and dynamic neuromechanical systems, they have demonstrated that the nervous system functions synergistically with the mechanical properties of the body, they have examined hypotheses that are difficult to test experimentally, and they have explored the role of sensory feedback in controlling complex mechanical systems with many degrees of freedom. Each of these studies confronts a common set of questions: (i) how to abstract key features of the body, the world and the CNS in a useful model, (ii) how to ground model parameters in experimental reality, (iii) how to optimize the model and identify points of sensitivity and insensitivity, and (iv) how to share neuromechanical models for examination, testing, and extension by others.

Keywords: biomechanics, sensorimotor integration, behavior, motor control, sensory feedback, computational model, movement

Citation: Edwards DH (2010) Neuromechanical simulation. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 4:40. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00040

Received: 14 April 2010; Paper pending published: 15 May 2010;
Accepted: 20 June 2010; Published online: 14 July 2010

Edited by:

William Kristan, University of California San Diego, USA

Reviewed by:

Ansgar Buschges, University of Cologne, Germany
Örjan Ekeberg, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Copyright: © 2010 Edwards. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Donald H. Edwards, Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, 100 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA. e-mail: dedwards@gsu.edu