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Richard Drushel, PhD

Senior Research Associate
Adjunct Instructor

Research Interests

Working in the laboratory of neurobiologist Dr. Hillel J. Chiel, Dr. Richard F. Drushel has helped to develop a series of 3-dimensional kinematic models of feeding behavior in the sea slug, Aplysia californica. These models represent the individual muscles and other soft tissue structures which make up the buccal mass, Aplysia's feeding organ. The models seek to integrate a variety of kinematic data in vivo and in vitro, including video recordings of transilluminated juveniles and both real-time and high-spatial-resolution MRI images. Development of models requires both detailed kinematic measurements and sophisticated computer programming. The object of these models is to test hypotheses about the functions of individual muscles which so far have proved either difficult or impossible to visualize directly using non-invasive means. Modelling is an iterative process in which failure is as important as success, as failure leads to new hypotheses, new experiments, and better models. It is the Chiel lab's working hypothesis that the biomechanics of the periphery provide important constraints upon the neral control of behavior; and the Aplysia feeding is a tractable model system in which to explore the interactions between nervous system and body.