Skip to Main Content
While neuroscientists identify increasingly complex neural circuits that control animal and human gait, biomechanists find that locomotion requires little control if principles of legged mechanics are heeded that shape and exploit the dynamics of legged systems. Here, we show that muscle reflexes could be vital to link these two observations. We develop a model of human locomotion that is controlled by muscle reflexes which encode principles of legged mechanics. Equipped with this reflex control, we find this model to stabilize into a walking gait from its dynamic interplay with the ground, reproduce human walking dynamics and leg kinematics, tolerate ground disturbances, and adapt to slopes without parameter interventions. In addition, we find this model to predict some individual muscle activation patterns known from walking experiments. The results suggest not only that the interplay between mechanics and motor control is essential to human locomotion, but also that human motor output could for some muscles be dominated by neural circuits that encode principles of legged mechanics.