Interjoint coordination in the stick insect leg-control system: The role of positional signaling

Dirk Bucher, Turgay Akay, Ralph A. DiCaprio, Ansgar Büschges

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51 Scopus citations


Interjoint coordination is essential for proper walking behavior in multi-jointed insect legs. We have shown previously that movement signals from the femur-tibia (FT) joint can shape motor activity of the adjacent coxa-trochanter (CT) joint in the stick insect, Carausius morosus. Here, we present data on the role of position signals from the FT-joint on activity generated in motoneurons (MNs) of the CT-joint. We show that the probability of occurrence of stance (with depression in the CT-joint) or swing movements (with levation in the CT-joint) at the start of walking sequences is influenced by the angle of the FT-joint in the resting animal. We tested the influence of FT-joint angle on pharmacologically induced rhythmic activity of CT-joint depressor (DprTr) and levator (LevTr) MNs. The burst duration, mean spike rate within bursts, and duty cycle for each MN pool were found to depend on FT position. For LevTr MNs, these parameters progressively increased as the FT-joint was moved from extension to flexion, and the opposite was true for DprTr MNs. The cycle period of CT-MN rhythmicity also depended on FT position. In addition, we sometimes observed that the motor output shifted completely to one MN pool at extreme positions, suggesting that the central rhythm-generating network for the CT-joint became locked in one phase. These results indicate that position signals from the FT-joint modulate rhythmic activity in CT-joint MNs partly by having access to central rhythm generating networks of the CT-joint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1255
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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