USC Inscription
Prof. Francisco Valero-Cuevas
Brain-Body Dynamics Lab
Please visit our new website at

Projects of the Brain-Body Dynamics Laboratory

The work of the Brain-Body Dynamics Laboratory, directed by Prof. Francisco Valero-Cuevas, focuses on the fundamental mechanisms of interactions between the brain and the body that give rise to versatile physical function. Our conceptual approach is that machines and organisms are part of a continuum of solutions that have evolved to respond to the demands of the physical environment. They differ only in their means to respond to these demands. Therefore, the apparently separate fields of Neuroscience, Computation & Modeling, Biomechanics, Manipulation, Robotics & Clinical Research (which have historically been mostly studied in isolation) can be combined and applied to the grand challenges of reverse engineering neuromuscular systems to understand the neuro-mechanical basis for versatile physical function, improve clinical restoration of function, and create innovative versatile machines. We insist on anatomical and neurophysiological fidelity, mathematical and computational rigor, and clinical usefulness.

More specifically, a rich mixture of behavioral, experimental and conceptual tools enables the theoretical and experimental lines of research and development in our laboratory. These projects funded by NIH, NSF, and NIDRR include studies of able and impaired human function, electrophysiological recordings from muscles and the brain, structural and functional MRI, and novel virtual reality environments. The conceptual basis of our work comes from computational neuroscience, linear systems theory, nonlinear dynamics, machine learning, control theory, and computational geometry. Our more recent applications range from novel clinical measures of dynamic manipulation, innovative robot design and control, and immersive environments for rehabilitation. We have laboratory and graduate student facilities in both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

Some current projects are:

  • Neuroscience: Reverse engineer brain control of the hand.
  • Computation & Modeling: Efficient inference of realistic models of complex neuro-anatomical systems.
  • Biomechanics: Structure and function of redundant multiarticular systems.
  • Manipulation: Neural and anatomical bases of dexterous manipulation.
  • Robotics: Design and control of innovative robotic manipulators.
  • Clinical Research: Clinical outcomes measures and rehabilitation paradigms for dexterous manipulation in childhood, aging, Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis of the hand, stroke and spinal cord injury.

For a complete list of publications in these topics, please see here.

NSF EFRI-COPN Program to reverse-engineer hand control

NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
Project 1: Dexterous manipulation

R01 project to understand neural control of finger motions and forces

  • Keenan KG, and Valero-Cuevas FJ
    Epoch length to accurately estimate the amplitude of interference EMG is likely the result of unavoidable amplitude cancellation
    Biomed Signal Process Control 2008 April; 3(2): 154162.
  • Venkadesan M and Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Effects of neuromuscular lags on controlling contact transitions.
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Physical, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences (2008 PREPRINT). By invitation.
  • Venkadesan M and Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Neural Control of Motion-to-Force Transitions with the Fingertip.
    J. Neurosci., Feb 2008; 28: 1366 - 1373; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4993-07.2008.
    PDF and Supplemental Material
  • Keenan K and Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Experimentally-valid predictions of muscle force and EMG in models of motor unit function are most sensitive to neural properties.
    J Neurophysiol (July 5, 2007). Electronic pre-print doi:10.1152/jn. 00577.2007.
  • Clewley R, Guckenheimer J, Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Estimating effective degrees of freedom in motor systems.
    IEEE transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 2008; 55(2):430-442.

  • R01 project to understand the structure and function
    of the fingers tendinous structure

  • Valero-Cuevas FJ, Anand K, Saxena, A, Lipson H.
    Beyond parameter estimation: Extending biomechanical modeling by the explicit exploration of model topology.
    IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 2007 Nov; 54(11): 1951-1964.
  • Venkadesan M, Guckenheimer J, Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Manipulating the edge of instability.
    J Biomech. 2007; 40 (8):1653-61. Epub 2007 Apr 2.
  • Valero-Cuevas FJ, Yi JW, Brown D, McNamara RV III, Paul C, Lipson H.
    The tendon network of the fingers performs anatomical computation at a macroscopic scale.
    IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2007 Jun; 54 (6 Pt 2):1161-6.
  • Paul C, Lipson H, Valero-Cuevas FJ.
    Control of locomotive tensegrity robots.
    IEEE Transactions on Robotics. 2006: 22 (5):pp944 - 957.

  • page last modified on November 20, 2015.
    currently maintained by: emily lawrence
    originally designed by: kornelius rácz