Hillel Chiel



DeGrace Hall, Room 304

How do the brain and body work together to generate adaptive behavior, i.e., behavior that allows animals to survive and reproduce? Our laboratory addresses this question through the use of multiple approaches, including neurophysiology, modeling, computer simulation, and novel techniques for characterizing the biomechanics and neural control of the feeding apparatus of the marine mollusk, Aplysia californica. We have used magnetic resonance imaging to visualize movements of the feeding musculature in intact, behaving animals, and computer simulation to create three-dimensional models of the musculature. We have extended these studies through the creation of models of the feeding apparatus that incorporate forces and neural control, and have tested the predictions of these models through in vitro and in vivo experiments. Another way in which we have tested hypothesis about the function of the mechanical system is by constructing biologically-inspired robots. At the same time, we have begun to develop novel techniques for wirelessly recording and stimulating neurons in intact, behaving animals. These studies are providing insights into the biological principles that underlie adaptive behavior, and into the design of biologically-inspired artificial devices that will have the flexibility of animals.


To find videos from Dr. Chiel’s lab, check out their YouTube page here.

Selected Publications

Wang, Y., Gill, J. P., Chiel, H. J. (2021) Shape versus Timing: Linear Responses of a Limit Cycle with Hard Boundaries under Instantaneous and Static Perturbation. SIAM J. Appl. Dyn. Syst., 20(2), 701–744. https://doi.org/10.1137/20M1344974

Zhuo, J.  Ou, Z. Zhang, Y., Jackson, E. M., Shankar, S. S., McPheeters, M. T., Ford, J. B., Jansen, E. D., Chiel, H. J., Jenkins, M. W. (2021) Isotonic ion replacement can lower the threshold for selective infrared neural inhibition, Neurophotonics 8(1) 015005 (19 February 2021) https://doi.org/10.1117/1.NPh.8.1.015005

Ford J. B., Ganguly, M., Zhuo J., McPheeters, M. T., Jenkins, M. W., Chiel, H. J., and Jansen, E. D. (2021) Optimizing thermal block length during infrared neural inhibition to minimize temperature thresholds. Journal of Neural Engineering 18 056016 https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-2552/abf00d

Webster-Wood, V.A., Gill, J.P., Thomas, P.J. and Chiel, H.J. (2020) Control for multifunctionality: bioinspired control based on feeding in Aplysia californica. Biological Cybernetics 114, 557–588. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00422-020-00851-9

Kandhari A, Wang Y, Chiel HJ, Quinn RD, Daltorio KA. (2020) An analysis of peristaltic locomotion for maximizing velocity or minimizing cost of transport of earthworm-like robots. Soft Robotics. pp. 1 – 21. DOI: 10.1089/soro.2020.0021.

Tam, S., Hurwitz, I., Chiel, H.J., Susswein, A.J. (2020) Multiple local synaptic modifications at specific sensorimotor connections after learning are associated with behavioral adaptations that are components of a global response change. Journal of Neuroscience 40 (22), 4363-4371.

Gill, J.P., Garcia, S., Ting, L.H.,Wu, M., Chiel, H.J. (2020) neurotic: Neuroscience Tool for Interactive Characterization, eNeuro 7 (3).

Gill, J.P., Chiel, H.J. (2020) Rapid adaptation to changing mechanical load by ordered recruitment of identified motor neurons, eNeuro 7 (3)

Ford, J.B., Ganguly, M., Poorman, M.E., Grissom, W. A., Jenkins, M.W., Chiel, H.J., Jansen, E. D. (2020) Identifying the Role of Block Length in Neural Heat Block to Reduce Temperatures During Infrared Neural Inhibition, Lasers in surgery and medicine 52 (3), 259-275.

Ganguly, M., Ford, J.B., Zhuo, J., McPheeters, M. T., Jenkins, M.W., Chiel, H. J., and Jansen, E. D. (2019) Voltage-gated potassium channels are critical for infrared inhibition of action potentials: an experimental study. Neurophotonics, 6(4), 040501. https://doi.org/10.1117/1.NPh.6.4.040501, pp. 1 – 4.

Kehl, C. E., Wu, J., Lu, S., Neustadter, D.M., Drushel, R.F., Smoldt, R.K., Chiel, H.J. (2019)

Soft-surface grasping: radular opening in Aplysia californica. Journal of Experimental Biology 222 (16), jeb191254. doi:10.1242/jeb.191254. pp. 1 – 14.

Kehl, C. E., Chiel, H. J. (2019) A minimally invasive lesion technique for muscles intrinsic to the odontophore of Aplysia californica. Journal of Visualized Experiments 150: doi: 10.3791/60030, pp. 1 -10.

Ford, J.B., Ganguly, M., Poorman, M.E., Grissom, W.A., Jenkins, M.W., Chiel, H.J., Jansen, E. D. (2019) Identifying the role of block length in neural heat block to reduce temperatures during infrared neural inhibition. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. doi: 10.1002/lsm.23139, pp. 1 – 17.

McManus, J.M., Chiel, H.J., Susswein, A.J. (2019) Successful and unsuccessful attempts to swallow in a reduced Aplysia preparation regulate feeding responses and produce memory at different neural sites. Learn Mem. 26(5):151-165. doi: 10.1101/lm.048983.118.

Ganguly, M., Jenkins, M.W., Jansen, E.D., Chiel, H.J. (2019) Thermal block of action potentials is primarily due to voltage-dependent potassium currents: a modeling study. J Neural Eng. 16(3):036020. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/ab131b.

Kandhari, A., Mehringer, A., Chiel, H.J., Quinn, R.D., Daltorio, K.A. (2019) Design and actuation of a fabric-based worm-like Robot. Biomimetics (Basel) 4(1). pii: E13. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics4010013.

Kandhari, A., Wang, Y., Chiel, H.J., Daltorio, K.A. (2019) Turning in worm-like robots: The geometry of slip elimination suggests nonperiodic waves. Soft Robot. doi: 10.1089/soro.2018.0080.

Kodama, N. X., Feng, T., Ullett, J. J., Chiel, H. J., Sivakumar, S. S., Galán, R. F. (2018) Anti-correlated cortical networks arise from spontaneous neuronal dynamics at slow timescales. Scientific Reports 8: Article Number 666, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18097-0.

Sperry, Z. J., Na, H., Parizi, S.S., Chiel, H.J., Seymour, J., Yoon, E. and Bruns, T. M. (2018) Flexible microelectrode array for interfacing with the surface of neural ganglia. Journal of Neural Engineering. 15: 036027, doi: https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-2552/aab55f.

Park, Y., Shaw, K., Chiel, H., and Thomas, P. (2018). The infinitesimal phase response curves of oscillators in piecewise smooth dynamical systems. European Journal of Applied Mathematics, 1-36. doi:10.1017/S0956792518000128.

Kandhari, A., Huang, Y., K A Daltorio, K.A., Chiel, H.J. and Quinn, R.D. (2018) Body stiffness in orthogonal directions oppositely affects worm-like robot turning and straight-line locomotion. Biomimetics and Bioinspiration. 13: 026003, doi: https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/aaa342.

Lothet, E. H., Shaw, K. M., Lu, H., Zhuo, J., Wang, Y. T., Gu, S., Stolz, D. B., Jansen, E. D., Horn, C.C., Chiel, H. J. and Jenkins, M. W. (2017) Selective inhibition of small-diameter axons using infrared light. Scientific Reports 7:3275, pp. 1 – 8. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-03374-9.

Lyttle, D. N., Gill, J. P., Shaw, K. M., Thomas, P. J. and Chiel, H. J. (2017) Robustness, flexibility and sensitivity in a multifunctional motor control model. Biological Cybernetics. 111: 25 – 47. doi 10.1007/s00422-016-0704-8.

Webster, V. A., Nieto, S. G., Grosberg, A., Akkus, O., Chiel, H. J. and Quinn, R. D. (2016) Simulating muscular thin films using thermal contraction capabilities in finite element analysis tools. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 63: 326 – 336. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmbbm.2016.06.027.

Webster, V. A., Hawley, E. L., Akkus, O., Chiel, H. J. and Quinn, R. D. (2016) Effect of actuating cell source on locomotion of organic living machines with electrocompacted collagen skeleton. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics 11:036012, pp. 1 – 8. doi:10.1088/1748-3190/11/3/036012.

Cullins, M. J., Gill, J. P., McManus, J. M., Lu, H., Shaw, K. M. and Chiel, H. J. (2015) Sensory feedback reduces individuality by increasing variability within subjects. Current Biology. 25: 2672 – 2676.

Horchler, A. D., Kandhari, A., Daltorio, K. A., Moses, K. C., Ryan, J., Stultz, K., Kanu, E., Andersen, K., Kershaw, J., Bachmann, R., Chiel, H. J. and Quinn, R. D. (2015) Peristaltic locomotion of a modular mesh-based robot: Precision, compliance and friction. Soft Robotics. 2(4):135-145.

Lu, H., McManus, J.M., Cullins, M. J. and Chiel, H. J. (2015) Preparing the periphery for a subsequent behavior: Motor neuronal activity during biting generates little force but prepares a retractor muscle to generate larger forces during swallowing in Aplysia. Journal of Neuroscience, 35:5051 – 5066.

Cullins, M. J., Shaw, K. M., Gill, J. P., and Chiel, H. J. (2015) Motor neuronal activity varies least among individuals when it matters most for behavior. Journal of Neurophysiology, 113: 981 – 1000.

Lothet, E. H., Kilgore, K. L., Bhadra, Niloy, Bhadra, Narendra, Vrabec, T., Wang, Y. T., Jansen, E. D., Jenkins, M. W., and Chiel, H. J. (2014) Alternating current and infrared (ACIR) produce an onset-free reversible nerve block. Neurophotonics,1 (1), 011010 (July 28, 2014); doi: 10.1117/1.NPh.1.1.011010, pp. 1 – 3.

Horchler, A. D., Daltorio, K. A., Chiel, H. J., and Quinn, R. D. (2015) Designing responsive pattern generators: Stable heteroclinic channel cycles for modeling and control. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 10, 026001, pp. 1 – 16.

Shaw, K. M., Lyttle, D.N., Gill, J. P., Cullins, M. J., McManus, J. M., Lu, H., Thomas, P. J. and Chiel, H. J. (2015) The significance of dynamical architecture for adaptive responses to mechanical loads during rhythmic behavior. Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 38: 25 – 51. doi: 10.1007/s10827-014-0519-3.

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