An Analog VLSI Model of Central Pattern Generation in the Leech

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 6 (NIPS 1993)

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Micah Siegel


I detail the design and construction of an analog VLSI model of the neural system responsible for swimming behaviors of the leech. Why the leech? The biological network is small and relatively well understood, and the silicon model can therefore span three levels of organization in the leech nervous system (neuron, ganglion, system); it represents one of the first comprehensive models of leech swimming operating in real-time. The circuit employs biophysically motivated analog neurons networked to form multiple biologically inspired silicon ganglia. These ganglia are coupled using known interganglionic connections. Thus the model retains the flavor of its biological counterpart, and though simplified, the output of the silicon circuit is similar to the output of the leech swim central pattern generator. The model operates on the same time- and spatial-scale as the leech nervous system and will provide an excellent platform with which to explore real-time adaptive locomotion in the leech and other "simple" invertebrate nervous systems.