Animals adapt their behaviour according to the requirements of the current situation. A wide range of sensory organs supply the animal’s nervous system with information about the immediate environment (external cues), but also about the current state of the body (internal cues). Depending on both, external and internal cues, the nervous system switches, modulates or sustains the pattern of activity in its output organs – muscles and glands – in order to change the current behaviour or to maintain it. A change in output causes a concurrent change in sensory input, thus closing the loop from the output to the input. The module “Control of Behaviour” addresses different aspects of control loops, ranging from unconscious control of homeostasis and reflexive movements to orientation, course control and the coordination of complex movement sequences. The first part of the module gives an introduction to the basic theory and experimental analysis of feed-back systems (e.g., dynamic properties and stability), using simple examples of animal physiology and neurobiology. The second part focuses on sensory control of movement in individual joints, limbs (i.e., chains with several joints) and whole bodies (i.e., coordination of multiple limbs). The third part is devoted to modelling the neural control of animal movement, with emphasis on the application of Artificial Neural Networks.
Biewener, A. A. (2003) Animal Locomotion. Oxford University Press.
Cruse, H (2008) Neural networks as cybernetic systems. 3rd ed., Brains, Minds & Media; ebook: http://www.brains-minds-media.org/archive/1841
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