Creative Commons License

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Biology


Corey Cleland


To better understand the potential use of synergies in the neural control of muscle in the rat tail during the NWR, a new computational biomechanical model of the tail was created in Matlab/Simulink based on experimentally measured parameters – length, mass, stiffness, and damping - of the tail. The tail was simplified from 28 coccygeal vertebrae to 12 equal length segments. The model was validated by applying known forces to the tail and comparing the observed and predicted movements. Using forward dynamics assisted data tracking (FDADT), we determined that while a single tendon synergy was adequate for small and proximal movements, distal movements that include both local bend and tail base rotation required a modified multi-tendon step synergy. Further, synergies with distal forces, such as the multi-tendon triangular pattern, always failed to match the lack of distal movement. Complementary inverse dynamics broadly supported these finding. Overall, our new model has the potential to provide insights into the neural control of hyper-redundant limbs and body parts, such as the rat tail.

Available for download on Friday, May 13, 2022

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