Scientific article
Open access

Sensory modulation of gait characteristics in human locomotion: A neuromusculoskeletal modeling study

Published inPLOS Computational Biology, vol. 17, no. 5, e1008594
Publication date2021

The central nervous system of humans and other animals modulates spinal cord activity to achieve several locomotion behaviors. Previous neuromechanical models investigated the modulation of human gait changing selected parameters belonging to CPGs (Central Pattern Generators) feedforward oscillatory structures or to feedback reflex circuits. CPG-based models could replicate slow and fast walking by changing only the oscillation's properties. On the other hand, reflex-based models could achieve different behaviors through optimizations of large dimensional parameter spaces. However, they could not effectively identify individual key reflex parameters responsible for gait characteristics' modulation. This study investigates which reflex parameters modulate the gait characteristics through neuromechanical simulations. A recently developed reflex-based model is used to perform optimizations with different target behaviors on speed, step length, and step duration to analyze the correlation between reflex parameters and their influence on these gait characteristics. We identified nine key parameters that may affect the target speed ranging from slow to fast walking (0.48 and 1.71 m/s) as well as a large range of step lengths (0.43 and 0.88 m) and step duration (0.51, 0.98 s). The findings show that specific reflexes during stance significantly affect step length regulation, mainly given by positive force feedback of the ankle plantarflexors' group. On the other hand, stretch reflexes active during swing of iliopsoas and gluteus maximus regulate all the gait characteristics under analysis. Additionally, the results show that the hamstrings' group's stretch reflex during the landing phase is responsible for modulating the step length and step duration. Additional validation studies in simulations demonstrated that the modulation of identified reflexes is sufficient to regulate the investigated gait characteristics. Thus, this study provides an overview of possible reflexes involved in modulating speed, step length, and step duration of human gaits.

  • Swiss National Science Foundation - http://p3.snf.ch/project-177179
Citation (ISO format)
DI RUSSO, Andrea et al. Sensory modulation of gait characteristics in human locomotion: A neuromusculoskeletal modeling study. In: PLOS Computational Biology, 2021, vol. 17, n° 5, p. e1008594. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008594
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1553-734X

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Creation07.06.2021 11:42:00
First validation07.06.2021 11:42:00
Update time16.03.2023 00:56:57
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