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Homework Help: How can we run without falling over on uneven ground

  1. Oct 16, 2007 #1
    ok this is a poject i need ideas etc and physiological explanations on how can run without falling over on uneven ground eg signals etc if i can get some fine detail it would be great involving neurons action potentials sensory conduction reflexs etc or even interesting paragraphs
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2007 #2
    A project like this falls into the category of homework, and is something you should be researching yourself. The point of this assignment, I'm sure, is for you to get experience in researching a subject on your own, and then to organize what you learn into a presentation that others can understand.
  4. Oct 17, 2007 #3
    ok but how or where does one start
  5. Oct 18, 2007 #4
    the neural processing involved with walking upright and navigating turns and changes in terrain on two feet while mainting balance is often considered probably one of the most if not the most complex forms of information processing yet discoverd in the known universe- it takes about 10^14-10^15 operations per second- or about a petaflop- this level of computation is just now being achieved artificially through distributed computing
  6. Oct 18, 2007 #5
    This is a very general question, there's been a lot of research along these lines. I can suggest some authors though.

    An "internal model" (of the outside world) is supposedly what the brain has to represent in some way in order to make effective movements like this. When you are walking down stairs and accidentally step too hard because you misjudge the height of the step then this is taken to be a failure of your internal model.

    For more information on internal models you might want to read papers by:
    -Daniel Wolpert
    -Mitsuo Kawato
    -Reza Shadmehr

    Also, since locomotion is usually rhythmic you might want to look into research on "central pattern generators". These are neural circuits that output a rhythmic signal even in the absence of any input. There are some influential models of various motor behaviors that employ central pattern generators. One interesting one (By Orlovsky I think) models the swimming of a particular simple marine organism in this way. There have been other studies showing that cats with their spinal cords cut are under some circumstances still able to run on a treadmill! This is attributed to their being a central pattern generator present in the spinal cord itself. Some more authors who've written extensively on central pattern generators are:
    -Martin Golubitsky
    -Eve Marder (less motor control oriented, more biology of the circuit oriented)
  7. Oct 18, 2007 #6
    I can't help you with running, but I can point you toward some studies on walking on uneven ground. Start Googling Robert Peterka or Owen Black. There is also some info in Google books.
  8. Oct 19, 2007 #7


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    You may also find it useful to look into concepts such as proprioception.

    As you will have noticed, we don't do your homework for you here. I'm also going to move this thread to the homework/coursework forums, where future homework questions should be placed.

    You've now been given several pointers for places to start, so we will expect you to show us some of your own effort at this point before we continue to offer help on your assignment. Tell us some of what you've found, and we can help with further questions you have based on that.
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