Emulated muscle spindle and spiking afferents validates VLSI neuromorphic hardware as a testbed for sensorimotor function and disease


The lack of multi-scale empirical measurements (e.g., recording simultaneously from neurons, muscles, whole body, etc.) complicates understanding of sensorimotor function in humans. This is particularly true for the understanding of development during childhood, which requires evaluation of measurements over many years. We have developed a synthetic platform for emulating multi-scale activity of the vertebrate sensorimotor system. Our design benefits from Very Large Scale Integrated-circuit (VLSI) technology to provide considerable scalability and high-speed, as much as 365× faster than real-time. An essential component of our design is the proprioceptive sensor, or muscle spindle. Here we demonstrate an accurate and extremely fast emulation of a muscle spindle and its spiking afferents, which are computationally expensive but fundamental for reflex functions. We implemented a well-known rate-based model of the spindle (Mileusnic et al., 2006) and a simplified spiking sensory neuron model using the Izhikevich approximation to the Hodgkin-Huxley model. The resulting behavior of our afferent sensory system is qualitatively compatible with classic cat soleus recording (Crowe and Matthews, 1964b; Matthews, 1964, 1972). Our results suggest that this simplified structure of the spindle and afferent neuron is sufficient to produce physiologically-realistic behavior. The VLSI technology allows us to accelerate this behavior beyond 365× real-time. Our goal is to use this testbed for predicting years of disease progression with only a few days of emulation. This is the first hardware emulation of the spindle afferent system, and it may have application not only for emulation of human health and disease, but also for the construction of compliant neuromorphic robotic systems.

DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2014.00141

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@inproceedings{Niu2014EmulatedMS, title={Emulated muscle spindle and spiking afferents validates VLSI neuromorphic hardware as a testbed for sensorimotor function and disease}, author={Chuanxin Minos Niu and Sirish K. Nandyala and Terence D. Sanger}, booktitle={Front. Comput. Neurosci.}, year={2014} }