BMED 8813: Computational Neuromechanics of Human Sensorimotor Control

BMED 8813: Special Topics Computational Neuromechanics of Human Sensory and Motor Control 

Director: Lena Ting (  
Teaching Assistant: Kyle Blum (
Credits: 3 hours
Hours: Wednesday 2:25 - 5:10 pm
Location: Emory Health Sciences Research Building (HSRB), Room E260
Note that this course will be taught on the Emory campus in the Health Sciences Research Building (HSRB). The schedule is designed around the Emory-GT shuttle schedule, with the stop being visible from the classroom (Andrews Circle).
Course Description: This is a graduate level course using engineering and robotics methods to understand the interactions between neural control and biomechanics of human movement. We will read principles of neuromechanics from a recent textbook, implement and analyze neuromechanical models in simulations, and read relevant papers from the primary literature. The implications of neuromechanical interaction in the mechanisms and rehabilitation of neurological disorders will be discussed based on literature and a class project.
Prerequisites: Graduate standing or permit from the instructor. Able to perform data analysis and simulations in Matlab. Familiarity with basic concepts in linear algebra and mechanics are assumed.
Required Texts: Human Robotics: Neuromechanics and Motor Control. Etienne Burdet, David W. Franklin, and Theodore E. Milner. 
Topics Include: Proprioception, multijoint mechanics, impedance control, redundancy and dimensional reduction, motor learning, applications in neurorehabilitation and rehabilitation robotics.

Tentative Course Schedule





Week 1 Jan 11

Neural signals for sensing and moving

Read: Chapter 1, 2

Homework: Matlab toolbox

Week 2 Jan 18

Muscle mechanics and control

Read: Chapter 3

Homework: Hill-type muscle model

Week 3 Jan 25

Single joint neuromechanics

Read: Chapter 4

Read: Ting and Chiel chapter, part 1, 2

Homework: Inverted pendulum

Week 4 Feb 1



Current topics: proprioceptive sensory feedback,  muscle mechanics, altered reflexes in neurological symptoms

Read: Dimitriou 2014 or Cui and Perreault 2008

Read: Field-Fote 2008 or Hallett 2008

Homework: Simulate a stretch reflex

Week 5 Feb 8

Multijoint, multimuscle kinematics and impedance

Read Chapter 5

Homework: Multijoint jacobian model, feasible force set

Week 6 Feb 15

Multijoint, multimuscle kinematics and impedance

Read: Ting and Chiel chapter part 3

Homework: Optimization of muscle coordination

Randy Trumbower

Week 7 Feb 22

Multijoint dynamics and control

Read Chapter 6

Homework: Dynamic limb model, interaction torques

Week 8 Feb 29

Redundancy and dimensional reduction

Read: Ting 2012

Homework: Feasible vs. optimal solutions

Week 9 Mar 7

Current topics: Interjoint coordination, robotic rehabilitation

Simulation packages – existing with strengths and weaknesses

Read: Dukelow and Scott 2014, Riener 2013

Homework: Project proposal. Simulate a published neuromechanical phenomenon and explore effects of neurological impairment

Week 10 Mar 14

Motor learning and Memory

Read: Chapter 7

Homework: Motor adaptation model


Project selection approved

Week 11 Mar 29

Motor learning in unstable and unpredictable conditions

Read: Chapter 8

Homework: Limb stability model

Week 12 Apr 5

Motion Planning and Online control

Read: Chapter 9

Homework: Dynamic optimization of hand path

Week 13 Apr 12

Multisensory Integration

Read: Chapter 10

Homework: Bayesian sensory integration

Week 14 Apr 19

Applications in Neurorehabilitation

Read: Chapter 11

Homework: Project topic

Week 15 Apr 26

Current topics in neuromechanics

Homework: present projects

Finals Week

Written project reports due May 3