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EPSRC Reference: GR/T10602/01
Title: Functions of Distributed Plasticity in a Biologically-Inspired Adaptive Control Algorithm:From Electrophysiology to Robotics
Principal Investigator: Dean, Emeritus Professor P
Other Investigators:
Melhuish, Professor C Pipe, Professor A Dutia, Professor MB
Porrill, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Psychology
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 05 January 2005 Ends: 04 April 2008 Value (£): 673,058
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomedical neuroscience Control Engineering
New & Emerging Comp. Paradigms Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Electronics
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Biologically controlled movement, as demonstrated by animal and human athletes, is superior in certain respects to its robotic counterpart. An important potential source of this superiority is the brain's control algorithms, in particular the algorithm implemented by the microcircuitry of the cerebellum. We propose to establish a multi-disciplinary collaboration to evaluate cerebellar-inspired control architectures for the adaptive control of robots. Gaze stabilisation will be the exemplar problem. Extensive investigations in neuroscience have shown that the cerebellum is essential for the adaptive calibration of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), which assists gaze stabilisation by counter-rotating the eyes in response to movements of the head. Moreover, a central feature of the relevant cerebellar control network is that it uses two sites of plasticity, one within the cerebellum itself, and one in the brainstem related to the neurons to which the cerebellum projects. We propose to apply this novel feature of distributed plasticity to adaptive control in robots, with the following goals for the three collaborating groups.(i) Characterisation of the properties of this brainstem plasticity by electrophysiological recording (Edinburgh);(ii) Construction of models of cerebellum and brainstem to investigate the computational properties of algorithms with distributed plasticity (Sheffield); (iii) Implementation and evaluation of selected algorithms in the adaptive control of camera stability in a robot-mounted camera (UWE).These combined studies will help to identify and implement novel features of biological control that contribute to its stability and robustness. The fact that the basic cerebellar microcircuit is used in thousands of different contexts in neural control suggests that the cerebellar algorithm will have widespread application to problems in robot movement. Finally, the proposed collaboration will address a crucial gap in UK computational science infrastructure. At present there is no readily available infrastructure for roboticists to benefit from current discoveries in neuroscience, nor for neuroscientists to learn of relevant developments in robotics and control engineering, Setting up a new multi-disciplinary modelling centre to facilitate this two-way communication has long-term potential for enhancing basic and applied research across a wide area of neurocomputing in the UK.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk