Journal Article Adaptation mechanism of interlimb coordination in human split-belt treadmill walking through learning of foot contact timing: a robotics study.

Fujiki, Soichiro  ,  Aoi, Shinya  ,  Funato, Tetsuro  ,  Tomita, Nozomi  ,  Senda, Kei  ,  Tsuchiya, Kazuo

12 ( 110 ) 2015-09-06 , Royal Society
Human walking behaviour adaptation strategies have previously been examined using split-belt treadmills, which have two parallel independently controlled belts. In such human split-belt treadmill walking, two types of adaptations have been identified: early and late. Early-type adaptations appear as rapid changes in interlimb and intralimb coordination activities when the belt speeds of the treadmill change between tied (same speed for both belts) and split-belt (different speeds for each belt) configurations. By contrast, late-type adaptations occur after the early-type adaptations as a gradual change and only involve interlimb coordination. Furthermore, interlimb coordination shows after-effects that are related to these adaptations. It has been suggested that these adaptations are governed primarily by the spinal cord and cerebellum, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Because various physiological findings suggest that foot contact timing is crucial to adaptive locomotion, this paper reports on the development of a two-layered control model for walking composed of spinal and cerebellar models, and on its use as the focus of our control model. The spinal model generates rhythmic motor commands using an oscillator network based on a central pattern generator and modulates the commands formulated in immediate response to foot contact, while the cerebellar model modifies motor commands through learning based on error information related to differences between the predicted and actual foot contact timings of each leg. We investigated adaptive behaviour and its mechanism by split-belt treadmill walking experiments using both computer simulations and an experimental bipedal robot. Our results showed that the robot exhibited rapid changes in interlimb and intralimb coordination that were similar to the early-type adaptations observed in humans. In addition, despite the lack of direct interlimb coordination control, gradual changes and after-effects in the interlimb coordination appeared in a manner that was similar to the late-type adaptations and after-effects observed in humans. The adaptation results of the robot were then evaluated in comparison with human split-belt treadmill walking, and the adaptation mechanism was clarified from a dynamic viewpoint.

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