Centralization of Locomotor Control in Roaches & Robots

How do we assess the centralization of control in moving animals and machines and what are the consequences of changing centralization?Animals such as cockroaches must coordinate the movements of multiple legs, which are coupled components of a complex hybrid-dynamical system, in order to stably run. Coordination could be achieved through a decentralized control architecture, where […]

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Moths change their behavior, but not their aerodynamics to feed in windy environments

How do moths maneuver in windy environments?Hawkmoths naturally hover and feed from flowers in nature. Insects have developed an assortment of unsteady aerodynamic mechanisms to generate the high-lift necessary for hovering. While feeding, hawkmoths rely on precise wing kinematics to not only remain aloft, but also track the motion of flowers as they sway in […]

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X-ray diffraction through living muscle

How does the action of millions of molecular motors enable muscle, nature’s most versatile material, to power movement? Actin (blue) and Myosin (red) form the contractile lattice that underlies muscle’s motility (lower left). Spacing between filaments (d10 and d20 — lower right) can change as the muscle is strained. Small-angle x-ray diffraction allows us to […]

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Moths slow their brains to track flowers in low light

Hawkmoths, like Manduca sexta, hover and track moving flowers during natural foraging in  low light environments. Neural recordings from the visual part of the moth’s brain have suggested that as light levels drop, the moth changes its sensitivity to light by integrating light for a longer period of time. Such a strategy raises the possibility […]

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