Feedback control as a framework for understanding tradeoffs in biology

Noah J. Cowan, Mert M. Ankarali, Jonathan P. Dyhr, Manu S. Madhav, Eatai Roth, Shahin Sefati, Simon Sponberg, Sarah A. Stamper, Eric S. Fortune, Thomas L. Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Control theory arose from a need to control synthetic systems. From regulating steam engines to tuning radios to devices capable of autonomous movement, it provided a formal mathematical basis for understanding the role of feedback in the stability (or change) of dynamical systems. It provides a framework for understanding any system with regulation via feedback, including biological ones such as regulatory gene networks, cellular metabolic systems, sensorimotor dynamics of moving animals, and even ecological or evolutionary dynamics of organisms and populations. Here, we focus on four case studies of the sensorimotor dynamics of animals, each of which involves the application of principles from control theory to probe stability and feedback in an organism's response to perturbations. We use examples from aquatic (two behaviors performed by electric fish), terrestrial (following of walls by cockroaches), and aerial environments (flight control by moths) to highlight how one can use control theory to understand the way feedback mechanisms interact with the physical dynamics of animals to determine their stability and response to sensory inputs and perturbations. Each case study is cast as a control problem with sensory input, neural processing, and motor dynamics, the output of which feeds back to the sensory inputs. Collectively, the interaction of these systems in a closed loop determines the behavior of the entire system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Biological Sciences
Electric Fish
steam engines
Cockroaches
Moths
Gene Regulatory Networks
Steam
case studies
Population Dynamics
Radio
animals
closed loop systems
organisms
Blattodea
radio
probes (equipment)
moths
Equipment and Supplies
flight
fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Cowan, N. J., Ankarali, M. M., Dyhr, J. P., Madhav, M. S., Roth, E., Sefati, S., ... Daniel, T. L. (2014). Feedback control as a framework for understanding tradeoffs in biology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 54(2), 223-237. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icu050

Feedback control as a framework for understanding tradeoffs in biology. / Cowan, Noah J.; Ankarali, Mert M.; Dyhr, Jonathan P.; Madhav, Manu S.; Roth, Eatai; Sefati, Shahin; Sponberg, Simon; Stamper, Sarah A.; Fortune, Eric S.; Daniel, Thomas L.

In: Integrative and Comparative Biology, Vol. 54, No. 2, 2014, p. 223-237.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cowan, NJ, Ankarali, MM, Dyhr, JP, Madhav, MS, Roth, E, Sefati, S, Sponberg, S, Stamper, SA, Fortune, ES & Daniel, TL 2014, 'Feedback control as a framework for understanding tradeoffs in biology', Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 223-237. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icu050
Cowan, Noah J. ; Ankarali, Mert M. ; Dyhr, Jonathan P. ; Madhav, Manu S. ; Roth, Eatai ; Sefati, Shahin ; Sponberg, Simon ; Stamper, Sarah A. ; Fortune, Eric S. ; Daniel, Thomas L. / Feedback control as a framework for understanding tradeoffs in biology. In: Integrative and Comparative Biology. 2014 ; Vol. 54, No. 2. pp. 223-237.
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