Real-time biomimetic Central Pattern Generators in an FPGA for hybrid experiments.

Abstract : This investigation of the leech heartbeat neural network system led to the development of a low resources, real-time, biomimetic digital hardware for use in hybrid experiments. The leech heartbeat neural network is one of the simplest central pattern generators (CPG). In biology, CPG provide the rhythmic bursts of spikes that form the basis for all muscle contraction orders (heartbeat) and locomotion (walking, running, etc.). The leech neural network system was previously investigated and this CPG formalized in the Hodgkin-Huxley neural model (HH), the most complex devised to date. However, the resources required for a neural model are proportional to its complexity. In response to this issue, this article describes a biomimetic implementation of a network of 240 CPGs in an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), using a simple model (Izhikevich) and proposes a new synapse model: activity-dependent depression synapse. The network implementation architecture operates on a single computation core. This digital system works in real-time, requires few resources, and has the same bursting activity behavior as the complex model. The implementation of this CPG was initially validated by comparing it with a simulation of the complex model. Its activity was then matched with pharmacological data from the rat spinal cord activity. This digital system opens the way for future hybrid experiments and represents an important step toward hybridization of biological tissue and artificial neural networks. This CPG network is also likely to be useful for mimicking the locomotion activity of various animals and developing hybrid experiments for neuroprosthesis development.
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Matthieu Ambroise, Timothée Levi, Sébastien Joucla, Blaise Yvert, Sylvain Saïghi. Real-time biomimetic Central Pattern Generators in an FPGA for hybrid experiments.. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Frontiers, 2013, 7 (6), pp.215. ⟨10.3389/fnins.2013.00215⟩. ⟨hal-00956624⟩

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