NACS Seminar: A theory of locomotor learning across timescales

Friday, October 28, 2022
10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
1103 Bioscience Research Building

Speaker: Nidhi Seethapathi (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 

Title: "A theory of locomotor learning across timescales"

Abstract: Humans can adapt their walking gait to novel situations such as diverse terrain, exoskeletons and prostheses, walking on split-belt treadmills, and other modifications to the person or environment. In this talk, I describe a theoretical framework that can explain many features found in locomotor learning across timescales and tasks. Our framework posits that at short time-scales humans respond via a robust default feedback controller that maintains stable locomotion, and at longer timescales humans slowly change this controller to optimize a performance metric, following a negative gradient estimated from intentional exploration. Our framework predicts changes in symmetry, entrainment, and energy expenditure in multiple tasks including walking on a split-belt treadmill and with exoskeletons. I will also comment on our ongoing data-driven theory-guided efforts to better understand the person-specific and dynamic aspects of the underlying locomotor learning algorithm.

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