Biomedical Engineering and Biokinesiology
Viterbi School of Engineering
- Neuroscience: Reverse engineer brain control of the hand.
- Computation & Modeling: Efficient inference of realistic models of complex neuro-anatomical systems.
- Biomechanics: Structure and function of redundant multiarticular systems.
- Manipulation: Neural and anatomical bases of dexterous manipulation.
- Robotics: Design and control of innovative robotic manipulators.
- Clinical Research: Clinical outcomes measures and rehabilitation paradigms for dexterous manipulation in childhood, aging, Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis of the hand, stroke and spinal cord injury.
The work of the Brain-Body Dynamics Laboratory, directed by Prof. Francisco Valero-Cuevas, focuses on the fundamental mechanisms of interactions between the brain and the body that give rise to versatile physical function. Our conceptual approach is that machines and organisms are part of a continuum of solutions that have evolved to respond to the demands of the physical environment. They differ only in their means to respond to these demands. Therefore, the apparently separate fields of Neuroscience, Computation & Modeling, Biomechanics, Manipulation, Robotics & Clinical Research (which have historically been mostly studied in isolation) can be combined and applied to the grand challenges of reverse engineering neuromuscular systems to understand the neuro-mechanical basis for versatile physical function, improve clinical restoration of function, and create innovative versatile machines. We insist on anatomical and neurophysiological fidelity, mathematical and computational rigor, and clinical usefulness. More specifically, a rich mixture of behavioral, experimental and conceptual tools enables the theoretical and experimental lines of research and development in our laboratory. These projects funded by NIH, NSF, and NIDRR include studies of able and impaired human function, electrophysiological recordings from muscles and the brain, structural and functional MRI, and novel virtual reality environments. The conceptual basis of our work comes from computational neuroscience, linear systems theory, nonlinear dynamics, machine learning, control theory, and computational geometry. Our more recent applications range from novel clinical measures of dynamic manipulation, innovative robot design and control, and immersive environments for rehabilitation. We have laboratory and graduate student facilities in both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.