We are so proud and happy for Dr Jade Hall, who graduated with her PhD in animal behavior and biomechanics today at the Royal Veterinary College! We wish we could have been there in person, but will have to settle for virtual celebrations.
Our new paper in eLife investigates the role of reflexes in the neuromuscular control of locomotion by testing how muscle function and stability change following disruption the stretch reflex to the lateral gastrocnemius muscle in the guinea fowl. We discovered that birds with a proprioceptive deficit compensate by activating their muscle slightly earlier in late swing. This enables the birds to maintain the work output and force development patterns of the LG, but with reduced stability and higher activation costs. See https://elifesciences.org/articles/53908
The UCI Neuromechanics lab has been awarded a grant from the NSF in collaboration with the Nishikawa lab at NAU. The grant project aims to bridge the gap in understanding between ‘top down’ approaches — that focus on whole-animal behavior but lack insight into underlying mechanisms, and ‘bottom-up’ approaches — that characterize mechanisms but lack insight into their contributions to animal behavior. We will combine experimental tools from biomechanics and ex vivo and in vivo muscle physiology to develop an integrative understanding of muscle function across organizational scales from tissue to whole-animal locomotor function. The project will focus on developing a fundamental understanding of muscle function under dynamic and perturbed locomotor conditions.