SICB Annual Meeting 2018
January 3-7, 2018
San Francisco, CA

Symposium: Sensory Feedback and Animal Locomotion: Perspectives from Biology and Biorobotics

The locomotor appendages of animals, from insect wings to tetrapod limbs, perform dual roles as sensors and propulsors, and mechanosensory feedback has been shown to be critical to an animal’s motor performance. Through a diverse group of researchers, our symposium will exemplify the relevant sensory stimuli associated with animal movement in diverse modes of locomotion (aerial, aquatic, and terrestrial) in a diverse range of taxa (insects, fish, tetrapods, and robots). This symposium will focus on the different strategies for encoding sensory stimuli as well as highlight the intersection between biology, engineering, and robotics. As this symposium includes both biologists and engineers, we hope this gathering will catalyze new interdisciplinary collaborations and identify future research directions for the development of bioinspired sensory control systems that can be implemented in bioinspired robotics.

Sponsors: The organizers and speakers thank the sponsors of this symposium for their generous donations:

and the following divisions of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology: DCB, DVM, DNNSB, and DAB.


  • Brett Aiello, University of Chicago
  • Jessica Fox, Case Western Reserve University
  • Gary Gillis, Mount Holyoke College


Introduction (7:50am – 8:00am): J. Fox, G. Gillis, and B. Aiello (10 min)

Morning Session 1 (8:00am – 9:30am):  Aerial locomotion

1. Cross-modal influence of mechanosensory input on visually guided behaviors in Drosophila

Jessica Fox

Case Western Reserve University

2. Robustness, sensitivity, and necessity in “template” sensing strategies of the hawkmoth

Simon Sponberg

Georgia Tech

3. How birds negate gusts and maintain heading by crabbing into the wind 

Quinn, D.B., Kress, D., Stein, A., Wegrzynski, M., Hamzah, L., Lentink, D.

Stanford University

Morning Session 2 (10:00am – 12:00pm):  Aquatic locomotion

4. Fins, function, and physiology: the role of pectoral fin mechanosensation during swimming

Aiello, B.R., Olsen, A.M., Mathis, C.M., Westneat, M.W., and Hale, M.E.

University of Chicago

5. Using noisy work loops to identify the phase-dependent stiffness and damping of muscle in lampreys

Tytell, Eric D.(1); Carr, Jennifer A.(1); Danos, Nicole(2); Cowan Noah J.(3); Ankarali, M. Mert(4)

1 Tufts Univ.; 2 Univ. San Diego; 3 Johns Hopkins Univ.; 4 Middle East Technical Univ.

6. The Interplay between Locomotion and Lateral Line Sensing in Swimming Fishes.

Otar Akanyeti and James C. Liao

Aberystwyth University

7. Sensory Mediated Propulsion and Touch in Biorobotic Fins. 

Gabriel N. Carryon, Jeff C. Kahn, and James L. Tangorra.

Drexel University

Afternoon Session (1:30pm – 3:30pm): Terrestrial locomotion

8. Understanding the agility of running birds: Sensorimotor and mechanical factors in avian bipedal locomotion.

Monica A Daley1, Joanne C Gordon1, Andrew A Biewener2, Alexander Spröwitz3

Royal Veterinary College, UK1; Harvard University, USA2; Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany3

9. Preparing for impact: sensory feedback and controlled landing in hopping toads

Authors: Suzanne Cox and Gary Gillis

Pennsylvania State University; Mount Holyoke College

10. Modeling sensory feedback and locomotor dynamics in Drosophila larvae

Barbara Webb, Jane Loveless, Konstantinos Lagogiannis, Antoine Wystrach

University of Edinburgh

11. Sensory Feedback from the Vibrissal System During Exploratory Behaviors of the Rat

Mitra Hartmann

Northwestern University