Sensory-Motor Integration and Control
- Author(s): Welch, Dan Bruce
- Advisor(s): Seitz, Aaron R
- et al.
Two leading vertebrate animal models were used in studying sensory motor integration and control:  Red eared turtles-Trachemys scripta elegans, (Locomotion) and  Humans- Homo sapiens (Cognition).  Locomotion: Survival depends on locomotor circuitry being driven by a variety of sensory inputs, such that movements can be adapted dynamically to survive against life threatening changes in the environment. With the first study, an examination of the forelimb/hindlimb kinematics and electromyographic (EMG) motor patterns that underlie aquatic lateral turning behavior in red-eared turtles was made. Rotation-evoked turning provides a convenient experimental platform in which to investigate the brainstem commands that underlie locomotor form selection (e.g., forward swimming vs. back-paddling) in a limbed vertebrate.  Cognition: Many vertebrates are also capable of cognitively driven fine motor movements. Humans for example, use their hands to manipulate objects as a result of a complex blend of sensory-motor control mechanisms. A second study was conducted in order to determine how intentional cognitive processes might be strengthened and/or automatic responses may be weakened using the Simon task (Simon et al., 1973). The results support the conclusion that the reduction of the latency in responding to incongruent stimuli from training might be due to route suppression/gating of irrelevant location information. Fine motor movements can work separately, synergistically, or in parallel with locomotor production. Future studies can expand our current perspective by learning how these sub-systems function together.