DOI: 10.1101/464230Nov 17, 2019Paper

Performance Limitations in Sensorimotor Control: Tradeoffs between Neural Computation and Accuracy in Tracking Fast Movements

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Shreya SaxenaMunther Dahleh


The ability to move fast and accurately track moving objects is fundamentally constrained by the biophysics of neurons and dynamics of the muscles involved. Yet, the corresponding tradeoffs between these factors and tracking motor commands have not been rigorously quantified. We use feedback control principles to quantify performance limitations of the sensorimotor control system (SCS) to track fast periodic movements. We show that (i) linear models of the SCS fail to predict known undesirable phenomena, including skipped cycles, overshoot and undershoot, produced when tracking signals in the "fast regime", while non-linear pulsatile control models can predict such undesirable phenomena, and (ii) tools from nonlinear control theory allow us to characterize fundamental limitations in this fast regime. Using a validated and tractable nonlinear model of the SCS, we derive an analytical upper bound on frequencies that the SCS model can reliably track before producing such undesirable phenomena as a function of the neurons biophysical constraints and muscle dynamics. The performance limitations derived here have important implications in sensorimotor control. For example, if primary motor cortex is compromised due to disease or dama...Continue Reading

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