Fundamentals of Neuromechanics

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I will provide an overview of a conceptual and computational framework to study how the nervous system exploits the anatomical properties of limbs to produce mechanical function. The study of the neural control of limbs has historically emphasized the use of optimization to find solutions to the muscle redundancy problem. That is, how does the nervous system select a specific muscle coordination pattern when the many muscle of a limb allow for multiple solutions?


I revisit this problem from the emerging perspective of neuromechanics that emphasizes finding and implementing families of feasible solutions, instead of a single and unique optimal solution. Those families of feasible solutions emerge naturally from the interactions among the feasible neural commands, anatomy of the limb, and constraints of the task. Such alternative perspective to the neural control of function is not only biologically plausible, but sheds light on the most central tenets and debates in the fields of neural control, robotics, rehabilitation, and brain-body co-evolutionary adaptations.

Francisco Valero Cuevas, University of Southern California
Andlinger Center
Room number or other detail: 
Maeder Hall
Friday, April 22, 2016 - 3:30pm
Faculty Host: 

Speaker Bio

Professor Valero-Cuevas obtained his BS degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College. He spent a year in the Indian subcontinent as a Thomas J Watson Fellow. He joined Queen’s University in Ontario and worked with Dr. Carolyn Small. His research for his Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering focused on developing non-invasive methods to estimate the kinematic integrity of the wrist joint. He then joined the Design Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stanford University. He worked with Dr. Felix Zajac developing a realistic biomechanical model of the human digits. Research conducted at the Rehabilitation R&D Center in Palo Alto focused on predicting optimal coordination patterns of finger musculature during static force production. After completing his PhD in 1997 he joined the Biomechanical Engineering Division at Stanford University as a Research Associate and Lecturer. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. In 2007 he joined the faculty at the University of Southern California. In 2013 he was elected Senior Member of the IEEE, and in 2014 to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers.

Speaker Photo

Francisco Valero Cuevas