Shreya Saxena Uses Deep Learning to Elucidate the Basis of Sensorimotor Control

ECE Assistant Professor Shreya Saxena has received a Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in support of her project, “Elucidating Principles of Sensorimotor Control using Deep Learning.” The research objective of this $1M BRAIN Initiative proposal is to develop biologically-inspired goal- and data- driven artificial intelligence methods to elucidate the neurodynamical basis of sensorimotor control. The outcomes of this research program will fundamentally impact our understanding of the neural circuits underlying sensorimotor control.

The project seeks to answer: How do distributed neural circuits drive purposeful movements? All neural circuits culminate in muscle signals that drive a complex set of tendons and joints – a system with physical properties such as mass, inertia, and internal dynamics. The goal of the motor pathways can be considered driving the musculoskeletal system such that the body reaches a desired state. By actively modeling this effector of movement and developing a deep reinforcement learning framework to control this effector, we can gain a deeper understanding of the neurons in the motor pathways and the effect of feedback on the neural signals. This understanding and characterization will be critical towards the application of principled neurostimulation to specific brain regions to study the effect of neural circuit perturbations on behavior, and conversely towards predictions of neural activity during varied behavior. The research objective of this BRAIN Initiative proposal is to develop biologically-inspired data-driven artificial intelligence methods to elucidate the principles of the neural control of movement.

The Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. Long desired by researchers seeking new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, this picture will fill major gaps in our current knowledge and provide unprecedented opportunities for exploring exactly how the brain enables the human body to record, process, utilize, store, and retrieve vast quantities of information, all at the speed of thought.