Electromechanical analogs of human reflexes

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1989;563:184-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1989.tb42198.x.


The conclusion to be drawn from our modeling is that the combined stretch and tendon reflexes alone can endow artificial muscle with a springlike feel as well as give it a baseline tone. In response to questions that motor physiologists often ask as to what variables the system controls, the answer here is clear: the stretch and tendon reflexes act together to maintain both a tension set-point and a length set-point, but in so doing they also give the system a springlike feel because of the existence of a servo error. The main goal of our studies is to understand the integration of reflexes, and thus far we have only begun to explore the two lowest-level spinal reflexes. We are in the process of expanding this work by developing a much more refined arm explicitly modeled after the human arm. This new arm is to be activated by a minimum of 10 muscles, each of which is reflexively driven, and it will allow us to explore the integration of higher-level reflex action such as automatic inhibition of antagonists and facilitation of synergists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Structural
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology*