Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Monday, December 16, 2019

Episode 51: Motor Control

To some neuroscientists, the brain exists to produce movement and everything else it does should be understood in light of this goal. On this episode, we talk about these "motor chauvinists" and the broader topic of how motor control is studied in neuroscience and artificial intelligence. First we briefly discuss the tangled anatomy of motor control in animals. Then we get into how artificial motor control is done, including optimal feedback control, reinforcement learning, and the six core principles of hierarchical motor control. Finally we relate these principles back to the biology and talk about what the future of the study of motor control needs. Throughout we conduct an experiment on ourselves, reflect on what makes motor outputs different from other tasks, and hear what Alex thinks is undeniably true or undeniably false about the motor system.

We read:
Descending pathways in motor control
Hierarchical motor control in mammals and machines

Also of interest:
This TED talk that explains the sea squirt example (which we call a sponge in the episode...)
Paper Alex mentioned about plasticity in spinal cord 

Alex's new *faculty* website can be found here: https://sites.google.com/view/caycogajic/home

And we mentioned previous episodes/topics:
Episode 48: Studying the Brain in Light of Evolution
Episode 47: Deep Learning to Understand the Brain 
Episode 39: What Does the Cerebellum Do? 
Episode 38: Reinforcement Learning - Biological and Artificial

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here or use the player below

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

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