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In the Danner Laboratory, we study the operation of the neural circuits controlling locomotion. Specifically, we are interested in understanding the connectivity and function of spinal circuits, how they integrate feedback from somatosensory afferents and commands from supraspinal centers, and how their operation is changed after motor disorders (such as spinal cord injury). We employ computational methods (neural network and musculoskeletal modeling) and work in close collaboration with experimentalists. These computational techniques provide us with excellent tools to investigate dynamic interactions between the different components of the locomotor system and allow us to incorporate a wealth of experimental findings into cohesive, integrated models that can then be used to derive hypotheses and guide future experiments.

Major research topics:

  • Neural control of locomotion
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Neural circuits
  • Spinal cord injury

Methodologies used:

  • Computational neuroscience (network models of spiking and rate-based neurons)
  • Simulation of biomechanics (rigid body dynamics; predictive simulations)
  • Neuromechanical models (interaction between neural networks and biomechanics)
  • Numerical optimization
  • Machine learning
  • Collaboration with experimentalists

Funded Research

Propriospinal neuron function in normal and post-SCI locomotion
NIH/NINDS R01 NS112304; 09/2020–08/2025
PIs: David S. K. Magnuson (University of Louisville), Simon M. Danner, Scott R. Whittemore (University of Louisville)

Spinal circuits for sensorimotor integration and interlimb coordination during locomotion
NIH/NINDS R01 NS115900; 09/21/2020 - 06/30/2025
PI: Simon M. Danner; Co-PI: Turgay Akay (Dalhousie University)

Learn more

Simon Danner, PhD, Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor

Simon Danner, PhD
Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor