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Michael A. Simon
Former Lab Member

Academic Background
PhD, 2010
BS Electrical Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX
BA Economics, Rice University, Houston, TX

Graduate Research Area
Neurobiology

Research Interests
As a member of the Trimmer Lab at the Tufts University Department of Biology, I am interested in the control of animal movement. The problem of how animals coordinate movement is highly relevant to understanding the effects of neurological diseases that effect motor coordination. We use the Hawkmoth caterpillar (Manduca sexta) as a model organism because of its relatively simple and highly robust nervous system that affords scrutiny outside the animal for long periods of time.

Currently, I am trying to understand how the soft-bodied crawler, Manduca sexta, coordinates sophisticated locomotory patterns with numerous degrees of freedom using limited afferent feedback mechanisms. I am studying the role that a particular mechanoreceptor, the stretch receptor organ, has on various animal behaviors. This organ, which has similarities to the vertebrate intrafusal muscle fiber, may prove to serve a critical function in coordination of complicated behavior. A better understanding of how sensory feedback is used by the central nervous system during movement may lead us to a better understanding of how higher organisms, like humans, coordinate simple movements unconsciously.

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