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Automation and the Body: Inputs and Outputs vs. Senses and Muscles

Connecting the worlds of engineering and regenerative medicine is no small feat and I hope that our last blog, which connected the human brain and the controller of an automation system, opened your eyes and allowed you to make some realistic associations between two distinct processes. With these blogs, we are propelling the industry forward by familiarizing both engineers and scientists with the worlds of a “different” industry.

We continue along our journey and build off concepts previously learned by connecting inputs and outputs of an automation to system to the senses and muscle movements of the human body.

As we discussed previously, the brain is a small yet essential piece of the human body that is needed for proper function, and similar to this is the controller of an automation system. Each of these components can be viewed as the control center and decision maker of their respective systems, as they are solely responsible for receiving information, processing it and then acting accordingly.

How this information is received and the resulting action inside of the human body can be linked to your senses and your muscles. All individuals have five senses that allow them to explore the world, be it through taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight and sometimes a combination of multiple senses.

Your senses are constantly working, even while asleep, and allow you to process the things that are going on around you. This happens when a signal or stimuli from each sensing organ travels through multiple different parts of the body via various pathways, such as the nervous system, ultimately allowing the signal to reach the brain.


Almost all sensory signals are received in the thalamus of the brain regardless of their origin and are then passed along to a very distinct part of the brain that is responsible for tracking only that signal. Once that signal has been received, your brain processes that signal and then chooses how it should act.


Some of the resulting actions are quite simple, such as the sense of sight, which you are using right now for example. Your eyes are sensing information on this screen in the form of words which is then being sent to the thalamus. With respect to the sense of sight specifically, the signal received by the thalamus is then passed along to the visual cortex of the occipital lobe where the information is put into context. As a result of proper processing of the signal, you allow your eyes to continue to move across this blog to read more and digest the information in a way that makes sense to you.

Other resulting actions are a bit more complex, such as the sense of touch, where many different types of receptors inside of the skin are activated as a result of a given sensation. Let’s take a hand touching a hot stove for example. When the receptors in your skin touch the stove, they quickly send the signal to your brain that the surface is quite hot. This signal, similar to the others, is processed first in the thalamus and is then sent to a different part of the brain called the parietal lobe.  As a result of receiving this signal, you quickly remove your hand from the hot stove to prevent further injury.

But how is it that your eyes continue to move across the screen and that your hand is quickly removed? This is where a new component of the human body comes into play: the muscular system.

As a result of the signal that is received and processed within the control center of your body, your brain then sends a different signal directly to the muscles allowing for movement. In the case of the eye, the signal that activates the muscle allowing for your eye to continue across the page; or in the case of the hand, the signal that activates the muscle allowing for your hand to quickly be removed from the stove.

These sensory and muscular functions of the human body can be closely compared to the inputs and outputs of an automation system, which allow the entire system to process the information that is surrounding it and then act accordingly...

If you would like to learn more about the similarities between the human brain and a controller within an automation system, and how you can implement controllers into your research to make everyday tasks easier, visit the Automation Station portion of our Community Portal.