A leg to stand on: computational models of proprioception

Curr Opin Physiol. 2021 Aug;22:100426. doi: 10.1016/j.cophys.2021.03.001. Epub 2021 Mar 19.


Dexterous motor control requires feedback from proprioceptors, internal mechanosensory neurons that sense the body's position and movement. An outstanding question in neuroscience is how diverse proprioceptive feedback signals contribute to flexible motor control. Genetic tools now enable targeted recording and perturbation of proprioceptive neurons in behaving animals; however, these experiments can be challenging to interpret, due to the tight coupling of proprioception and motor control. Here, we argue that understanding the role of proprioceptive feedback in controlling behavior will be aided by the development of multiscale models of sensorimotor loops. We review current phenomenological and structural models for proprioceptor encoding and discuss how they may be integrated with existing models of posture, movement, and body state estimation.