Researchers at Tohoku University with the backing of the Human Frontier Science Program, have decrypted the flexible motor control mechanisms underlying salamander walking.
The salamander is an amphibian and the most suitable specimen for understanding body-limb coordination mechanisms. The researchers modelled the nervous system of the salamander mathematically and physically. In making the model, the researchers hypothesized that the legs and the body are controlled to support other motions by distributing sensory information. They then reproduced the speed-dependent gait transitions of salamanders through computer simulations.
The discovery is expected to promote the development of robots that can move with high agility and adaptability by flexibly altering body-limb coordination patterns.