Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 206–218 | Cite as

Travelling wave patterns in a model of the spinal pattern generator using spiking neurons

  • Alexander KaskeEmail author
  • Nils Bertschinger


The aim of this study is to produce travelling waves in a planar net of artificial spiking neurons. Provided that the parameters of the waves – frequency, wavelength and orientation – can be sufficiently controlled, such a network can serve as a model of the spinal pattern generator for swimming and terrestrial quadruped locomotion. A previous implementation using non-spiking, sigmoid neurons lacked the physiological plausibility that can only be attained using more realistic spiking neurons. Simulations were conducted using three types of spiking neuronal models. First, leaky integrate-and-fire neurons were used. Second, we introduced a phenomenological bursting neuron. And third, a canonical model neuron was implemented which could reproduce the full dynamics of the Hodgkin–Huxley neuron. The conditions necessary to produce appropriate travelling waves corresponded largely to the known anatomy and physiology of the spinal cord. Especially important features for the generation of travelling waves were the topology of the local connections – so-called off-centre connectivity – the availability of dynamic synapses and, to some extent, the availability of bursting cell types. The latter were necessary to produce stable waves at the low frequencies observed in quadruped locomotion. In general, the phenomenon of travelling waves was very robust and largely independent of the network parameters and emulated cell types.


Spinal Cord Pattern Generator Model Neuron Wave Pattern Network Parameter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical Computer ScienceTechnische Universität GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.KölnGermany

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