An active treadmill to control locomotion

As documented in several publications, active locomotion can strongly modulate cortical activity. I explained earlier how Scanbox uses a quadrature encoder to be able to control, in real time, an external stimulus that depends on the state of locomotion. In this way, we can design experiments in which stimuli are delivered during periods of locomotion or rest.

However, if either locomotion or rest are not sampled often enough by an individual subject, one may want to use an active treadmill to have some control over their duration.  The same controller used to move the motors of the microscope has additional axes that can be used for this purpose, allowing us to slowly ramping up and down the velocity of the platform with arbitrary velocity profiles. The video below shows the smooth acceleration and deceleration we can achieve.  The Scanbox interface keeps track of commands issued to the treadmill and monitors the actual physical movement through the quadrature encoder.