Model of a bilateral Brown-type central pattern generator for symmetric and asymmetric locomotion

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The coordinated activity of muscles is produced in part by spinal rhythmogenic neural circuits, termed central pattern generators (CPGs). A classical CPG model is a system of coupled oscillators that transform locomotor drive into coordinated and gait-specific patterns of muscle recruitment. The network properties of this conceptual model can be simulated by a system of ordinary differential equations with a physiologically inspired coupling locus of interactions capturing the timing relationship for bilateral coordination of limbs in locomotion. Whereas most similar models are solved numerically, it is intriguing to have a full analytical description of this plausible CPG architecture to illuminate the functionality within this structure and to expand it to include steering control. Here, we provided a closed-form analytical solution contrasted against the previous numerical method. The evaluation time of the analytical solution was decreased by an order of magnitude when compared with the numerical approach (relative errors, <0.01%). The analytical solution tested and supported the previous finding that the input to the model can be expressed in units of the desired limb locomotor speed. Furthermore, we performed parametric sensitivity analysis in the context of controlling steering and documented two possible mechanisms associated with either an external drive or intrinsic CPG parameters. The results identify specific propriospinal pathways that may be associated with adaptations within the CPG structure. The model offered several network configurations that may generate the same behavioral outcomes. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Using a simple process of leaky integration, we developed an analytical solution to a robust model of spinal pattern generation. We analyzed the ability of this neural element to exert locomotor control of the signal associated with limb speeds and tested the ability of this simple structure to embed steering control using the velocity signal in the model’s inputs or within the internal connectivity of its elements.