This project aims to provide insight into the human motor control system via mathematical system modeling techniques.

The human musculoskeletal system is highly redundant, nonlinear, and with time-delays and noise. A truly challenging system to control. Yet the nervous system controls the movements very pensively, and with remarkable efficiency. How does the nervous system do that?

Motor control modelAs an effort to reduce the complexity of the movement control, it is proposed that the nervous system activates the muscle in groups to perform a certain function (called the muscle synergies). This synergistic approach allows for faster computations, because the number of control inputs is much smaller.

Having a model of the human motor control system is beneficial in many was:

  • Neuroscience and motor control studies: The biologically plausible motor control models are valuable tools to study the nervous system, and to perform "experiment" that are hard (or impossible) in practice; such as isolating certain processes, or perform what-if scenarios.
  • Rehabilitation: knowing how the motor control system works, we might be able to tailor a rehabilitation program for a certain lesion, in order to regain functionality faster and more effectively.
  • Virtual prototypic of assistive devices: Computer simulations can facilitate the design and improvement of the assistive devices. A fast motor control model that mimics human behaviour is a necessity in such simulations. 
  • Artificial control of limb movements: Stimulating the muscles with electrodes to generate motion in paralyzed limbs have been around for decades. However, due to the complexities of the human body, these systems have limited capabilities. A real-time motor control model that can handle the complexities will extend the usefulness of these systems.

Related theme

Biomechanics and sports engineering, Control and optimization

Project members: 
Last updated: September 29, 2016