Project on coupling the biophysical muscle system simulator demoa with NEST by Syn Schmitt selected for EBRAINS Research Infrastructure Voucher Programme

June 2, 2021 / sä

A new group of projects will soon start on the EBRAINS research infrastructure. Among the winners of the EBRAINS Voucher Call by the Human Brain Project is Syn Schmitt’s project on “NEST-demo co-simulation: Towards linking closed-loop motor control models to multi-scale experimental data (NEST-Demoa)”. Syn Schmitt, a long-standing Participating Researcher in the Cluster of Excellence EXC 2075 “Data-integrated Simulation Science (SimTech)”, is Head of the Institute for Modelling and Simulation of Biomechanical Systems (IMSB) and professor in Cyber Valley at the University of Stuttgart.

“I am really excited and honored to be part of EBRAINS and about the opportunities that come with it”, says Syn Schmitt.

With his project that he conducts together with Susanne Kunkel (Norwegian University of Live Sciences), he directly contributes to the SimTech vision of the “Digital Human Model” by integrating and extending neuro-muscular skeletal models towards motor-cortex network models.

Human and most animal movement is driven by skeletal muscles. They receive simulation signals from the motor cortex via hierarchical central nervous network structure. In dynamic interaction with the environment, the muscles close the neural control loop by feeding back sensory information of the body’s system state to the CNS. It is known that muscle dynamics facilitate human movement and help the brain to perform typical movement tasks, for example, periodic motion. However, it remains unclear, if and how the motor cortex adjusts its output, depending on the muscle’s feedback. Models of different hierarchical levels exist, for example, motor neuron models to simulate the neural drive. The project aims at interfacing demoa with NEST, which is a simulator for spiking neuronal networks offering its users great flexibility with respect to model definition.

Thirteen innovative projects from Europe, the United States, and Canada have successfully applied for a voucher that gives them access to EBRAINS extensive implementation support. The vouchers fund the necessary work of dedicated expert Human Brain Project’s teams for the development and implementation of new tailor-made infrastructure features, which will help the winners to turn their ideas into reality. The research areas addressed in this action include computational models of brain diseases, learning algorithms for speech recognition, and therapy robots. The overall budget volume is 1 Million Euro.

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is the largest brain science project in Europe and stands among the biggest research projects ever funded by the European Union. At the interface of neuroscience and information technology, the HBP investigates the brain and its diseases with the help of highly advanced methods from computing, neuroinformatics and artificial intelligence, and drives innovation in fields like brain-inspired computing and neurorobotics.

EBRAINS is a new digital research infrastructure, created by the EU-funded Human Brain Project, to foster brain-related research and to help translate the latest scientific discoveries into innovation in medicine and industry, for the benefit of patients and society.

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