The contribution of a central pattern generator in a reflex-based neuromuscular model
Although the concept of central pattern generators (CPGs) controlling locomotion in vertebrates is widely accepted, the presence of specialized CPGs in human locomotion is still a matter of debate. An interesting numerical model developed in the 90s' demonstrated the important role CPGs could play in human locomotion, both in terms of stability against perturbations, and in terms of speed control. Recently, a reflex-based neuro-musculo-skeletal model has been proposed, showing a level of stability to perturbations similar to the previous model, without any CPG components. Although exhibiting striking similarities with human gaits, the lack of CPG makes the control of speed/step length in the model difficult. In this paper, we hypothesize that a CPG component will offer a meaningful way of controlling the locomotion speed. After introducing the CPG component in the reflex model, and taking advantage of the resulting properties, a simple model for gait modulation is presented. The results highlight the advantages of a CPG as feed forward component in terms of gait modulation.