Professor Avis Cohen (Biology/ISR) is a co-PI on a five-year, $500K National Science Foundation (NSF) grant award from the Research Coordination Networks Physical/Life Sciences (RCN-PLS) program, "Neuromechanics and Dynamics of Locomotion." Lisa Fauci of Tulane University is the principal investigator.
One ideal in neuroscience is to understand how the nervous system creates a complete behavior. Locomotion is a prime example of such a complex behavior. Relationships among neuronal and motoneuronal activities, and the resulting dynamic muscle forces need to be deduced. One then describes how muscle forces combine with the mechanics of the organism in its environment. Finally, the integration of sensory feedback into movement control must be described.
To achieve an integrated understanding of locomotion, even in very simple model organisms, interdisciplinary approaches that combine experiments, mathematical and computational models, and robotic models are necessary. This research will catalyze interactions and communication between researchers from diverse backgrounds whose combined expertise will lead to significant progress in uncovering the fundamental processes of this complex system. Fauci and Cohen will use their successes in understanding the swimming behavior of lamprey through coordinated neural and mechanical studies (experimental, robotic and computational) as a model approach to interdisciplinary collaborations.
The research coordination network (RCN) will provide a framework that facilitates collaborations through planned activities that include exchange visits of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows among RCN laboratories, an annual Winter Workshop on Locomotion, visits among members of the RCN network, organization of minisyposia at national meetings, and maintenance of a locomotion website.
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April 19, 2011