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Exp Brain Res. 1976 Jan 26;24:245-55.

The role of cutaneous afferents from the distal hindlimb in the regulation of the step cycle of thalamic cats.


The pad and the plantar surface of the foot were stimulated electrically in thalamic cats. Weak stimulation evoked an extensor reflex in the animal at rest. The same stimuli in a spontaneously walking animal applied during the stance phase produced an increase both in amplitude and duration of the ongoing extensor activity. When given during the swing phase, the stimuli either prolonged the ongoing flexor activity and/or shortened the following extensor burst. These changes in flexor and extensor burst duration were reflected in changes in the step cycle duration. Similar results were seen with direct stimulation of the sural nerve. For the latter experiments the ipsilateral hindlimb was fixed and denervated except for the ankle extensors and flexors, which showed rhythmic contractions correlated normally with the walking movements of the three remaining limbs. At rest, threshold stimulation of the sural nerve evoked a reflex contraction in the triceps surae of the fixed leg. The same stimuli applied during the contraction phase of the fixed triceps surae during walking resulted in a larger and longer extensor contraction and a delay of the following flexion. Stimulation during the relaxation phase of the fixed triceps surae reduced the duration of the following contraction phase. The findings are discussed in relation to the possible role of cutaneous input during locomotion.

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