The Department of Biology, University of Maryland

Avis H. Cohen

Laboratory for Neural Control of Locomotion

Affiliations | Lab Aims | Collaborations | Papers | Must-See Links

Lamprey In Motion. We study the control of locomotion in a primitive vertebrate, the lamprey.

For these studies, we use whole animals and semi-reduced preparations.

View the Quicktime video on Dr. Cohen's Research
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Ralph Etienne-Cummings

Anthony Lewis

Johns Hopkins aVLSI Labs

Iguana Robotics

An example of aVLSI technology
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An Example of aVLSI Technology.
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Institute for Systems Research Telluride 2000 Conference *

We have two global aims in our lab:

    Understanding how systems work:

    Our focus is on a simple vertebrate, the lamprey.  This animal has the advantage that while it is a full fledged vertebrate, its nervous system is remarkably simple and robust.  As a result we can study the entire nervous system in isolation while it produces motor output patterns associated with movements, such as swimming.
    We investigate:

  • How are the coordinated rhythmic patterns generated by the spinal cord?
  • How are the spinal segments coordinated?
  • Can robotic implementations perform the same patterns if constructed with rules we deduce from biology? (Hiroshi Kimura)
    Understanding the potential problems associated with spinal cord regeneration and finding solutions : (see reference)

    Here, too, we use the lamprey.  We have evidence that regeneration in the lamprey, while clearly a reality, can easily lead to problems for the animal.  We are investigating:

  • What is the origin of these problems?  (see reference)

  • What are the changes in the nervous system caused by a spinal injury? (see reference)
  • What are the changes in the nervous system that underlie the behavioral problems we see?
  • Can we use neuromorphic engineering to find rehabilitation solutions for spinal cord injury?
  • In association with these goals, we have developed mathematical models and are developing analog Very Large Scale integration (aVLSI) treatments of oscillatory and locomotor systems.  Some are more abstract mathematical models, some are neural network models (see reference) and others are powerful statistical tools for analysis of rhythmic patterns (see reference).  This work is ongoing within the lab and in collaboration with Holmes, Princeton University.  We are also working with Tony Lewis (Iguana Robotics) and Ralph Etienne-Cummings (University of Maryland) and on an aVLSI CPG chip to control limb movements.

    Avis H. Cohen, aside from her lab research, is also one of directors of the Workshop on Neuromorphic Engineering held at Telluride, Colorado each summer, and co-PI of a grant to support collaborative neuromorhpic engineering projects, and support a lecture circuit to expand eductaional programs in neuromorphic engineering.


Courtney Smith - George Washington University
Philip Holmes - Princeton University
Ralph Etienne-Cummings - Johns Hopkins University
Cristian Castillo-Davis - University of Maryland
Lex Smits - Princeton University
Lex Smits Lab - Princeton University
Thelma Williams
Eric Tytell
Lisa Fauci - Tulane University
Amir Ayali - Tel-Aviv University


Must-See Links:

Koch Laboratory

Computational Neurobiology Lab

Computational Neuroengineering Lab
Neuromorphic Systems

Telluride workshop on Neuromorphic Engineering

Institute for Neuromorphic Engineering

Institute for Neuroinformatics

Newsletter for the Institute for Neuromorphic Engineering

This site designed by James E. Henry ©2000

Question or comments about this site? Contact Avis H. Cohen.

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This image adapted from The INI Man designed by Rodney Douglas (permission requested).