The CSNE will sponsor the seminar "What is the Central Problem of Motor Control?" by Francisco J. Valero-Cuevas, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.
Understanding the coevolutionary process that led to organisms as we know them is critical to understanding their function, dysfunction and rehabilitation. In recent decades, the perspective that muscle redundancy is the central problem of motor control has dominated this scientific endeavor. Therefore the "problem" the brain solves is cast explicitly and/or implicitly as one of neural computation needed to select viable solutions from the many allowed by the redundancy/adaptability that comes from having "too many" redundant or overcomplete muscles or joints. However valuable and informative, this perspective is also paradoxical with respect to the evolutionary process, the clinical reality that even mild injury leads to measurable dysfunction, and a rigorous mechanical analysis of complex systems and complex behavior. I will describe my personal journey in the study of sensorimotor function (biased towards mechanics, computational motor control, mathematics and clinical problems) that has allowed me to begin to articulate the problem of motor control in a way that resolves these apparent paradoxes. Namely, that vertebrates have barely enough muscles to meet the mechanical requirements of real-world ecological task.