Mission

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            Our mission in the Comparative Neuromechanics Laboratory is to develop and test unifying principles that describe the control of human locomotion. In particular, we use a comparative approach to answer basic questions that can be applied across many different species. This broad approach allows us to better distinguish fundamental mechanisms that address the interaction between physics and physiology during movement. We are also dedicated to translating our basic discoveries into practice by providing solutions to advance modern rehabilitative therapies for gait disabilities.

 

Research

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            Current projects involve studying how gait compensations are made both from biomechanical and motor control perspectives. To this end, we study the control of human and non-human vertebrate legs within the conceptual framework of the Uncontrolled Manifold hypothesis. This idea suggests neuromechanical redundancy is not only helpful, but is exploited by the nervous system to simplify control of and completion of specific behavioral tasks, such as those involved in limb function during locomotion. We integrate concepts and tools from comparative biomechanics, neurophysiology and computational neuroscience.

Human Research

 

        We use well-controlled studies of healthy human locomotion to better understand basic principles and test these ideas with research on pathological gait. In the process we have had to develop several new devices to further our research.

Comparative Research

        We use well-controlled studies of animal locomotion to test our understanding of both healthy and pathological locomotion. We also exploit the fact that nature has been conducting experiments for many generations, on an evolutionary timescale, that have resulted in behavioral extremes. Through the study of naturally extreme behaviors, we can get new ideas for control principles and also inspire the design of engineered systems. We have had to develop several new devices to further our comparative research goals.

Lab Resources

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◊ Biplanar x-ray machine

◊ Split-belt treadmill with incorporated force plates

◊ Vicon Motion Capture System