Grant: $1,250,000 - National Science Foundation - Jul. 27, 2009
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Award Description: While the nervous system operates with information, the mechanics of the body and the environment in which it is embedded constitute a world of forces. Work on the mechanics of the body and on the nervous system is rarely undertaken in a joint fashion, in part because of the difficulty of comparing these quantities. A theoretical umbrella under which neural information acquisition can be related to mechanics is currently lacking; there is no science of infomechanics. This project will use the model system of weakly electric fish to push forward an understanding of the linkages between obtaining sensory information and movement mechanics. It has recently been shown that, unlike most forward-biased animals which sense objects ahead better than in other directions, electric fish are able to sense in all directions. Complementing this unique sensory capacity is a motor system which allows them reach locations all around the body quickly. The very high degree of coupling between sensation and movement in these animals makes them ideal for elucidating the principles connecting mechanics to sensory processing. The kinematics and dynamics of this unique motor system will be studied through use of a highly stereotyped refuge-tracking behavior and work on an advanced electric fish robot. The neural basis of sensory-guided movement will be examined through a study of the encoding of locomotor signals in the brain. Finally, a robotic model of a closed-loop sensory tracking behavior present in fish will be used to test hypotheses of how the processing of object features is connected with movement control. This work will result in the training of one postdoctoral associate and several graduate students in interdisciplinary research spanning behavior, neurobiology, robotics, and fluid dynamics. Novel outreach projects will expose the broader public to the results of the research, including an art installation concerning the electric fields emitted by these fish and proposed enhancements to the electric fish displays of the Shedd Aquarium.
Project Description: See Award Description
Jobs Summary: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds have significantly aided the research mission of Northwestern University by providing salary compensation for individuals directly involved in research, both at Northwestern and at consortium institutions, as well as at the vendor organizations who provide goods and services in support of that mission. Northwestern has employed a standard methodology for determining jobs created or retained, based on guidance presented by OMB. Jobs are reported in aggregate for the grant, comprised of calculated figures for hourly and salaried employees at Northwestern plus the reported jobs created or retained by subrecipients. The number of Northwestern hourly employees will be calculated as the number of hours charged to the grant divided by the standard hours in a full-time schedule for the period. The number of Northwestern salaried employees will be calculated based on the paid effort charged to the ARRA grant divided by the total salary. There are currently no jobs created or retained by this ARRA funded project. (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Jul. 27, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.