December 14, 2015

Klinotactic Thoughts and Holonomic Fun

What a week for models of movement! The first item is the most recent OpenWorm Journal Club (hosted on Google Hangouts and YouTube) called "Closing the Loop from Brain Cells to Behavior". This session explored the implications of two papers by Eduardo Izquirdo and Randall Beer [1] on C. elegans  Neuromechanics.

This work focuses on the existence of klinotaxis in C. elegans movement generation. Klinotaxis occur as small but important neural circuit generates movement signals in response to the environment. Specifically, sinusoidal movement of the head occurs as a function of central pattern generation in the brain and behavioral response to the environment.

The second item involves the BB8 droid from the upcoming Star Wars movie. As the first spherical rolling droid of the Star Wars metaverse, BB8 is also a very real mechanical prototype called the Sphero. And now you can build your own [2]! By capitalizing on a principle called holonomic motion, the body moves independently of the head, which balances on the rolling body. The following article (How does BB8 Work?) discusses the innovation and the details behind the patent registered by Disney Labs.

[1] Izquierdo, E.J. and Beer, R.D. (2015).  An integrated neuromechanical model of steering in C. elegans. Proceedings of ECAL, 199-206. MIT Press  AND  Izquierdo, E.J., Williams, P. and Beer, R.D. (2015).  Information flow through the C. elegans klinotaxis circuit. PLoS One, 10(10), e0140397.

[2] For more information, please see: Berkey, R.   Make your own Star Wars VII BB8 Droid. Nerdist blog, June 7 (2015)  AND  How does BB8 Work?

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