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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2005 Mar;191(3):213-29. Epub 2004 Sep 25.

Neuronal control of turtle hindlimb motor rhythms.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


The turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans, uses its hindlimb during the rhythmic motor behaviors of walking, swimming, and scratching. For some tasks, one or more motor strategies or forms may be produced, e.g., forward swimming or backpaddling. This review discusses experiments that reveal characteristics of the spinal neuronal networks producing these motor behaviors. Limb-movement studies show shared properties such as rhythmic alternation between hip flexion and hip extension, as well as variable properties such as the timing of knee extension in the cycle of hip movements. Motor-pattern studies show shared properties such as rhythmic alternation between hip flexor and hip extensor motor activities, as well as variable properties such as modifiable timing of knee extensor motor activity in the cycle of hip motor activity. Motor patterns also display variations such as the hip-extensor deletion of rostral scratching. Neuronal-network studies reveal mechanisms responsible for movement and motor-pattern properties. Some interneurons in the spinal cord have shared activities, e.g., each unit is active during more than one behavior, and have distinct characteristics, e.g., each unit is most excited during a specific behavior. Interneuronal recordings during variations support the concept of modular organization of central pattern generators in the spinal cord.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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