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Neurosci Res. 2012 Oct;74(2):129-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2012.07.007. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Characteristics of leading forelimb movements for obstacle avoidance during locomotion in rats.

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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.


Walking smoothly and safely often involves stepping over an obstacle. The purpose of this study was to examine forelimb movements and toe trajectories in stepping over an obstacle during overground locomotion in rats. We performed a kinematic analysis of forelimb movements and measured electromyographic (EMG) activities in the biceps and triceps brachii of the forelimbs. We found that mean toe height just above the obstacle was lower in the leading forelimb than in the trailing forelimb. The toe positions of the leading forelimb at maximal elevation over the obstacle (peak toe position) were closer to the upper edge of the obstacle than those of the trailing forelimb. The linear distance between peak toe position and the upper edge of the obstacle was significantly less in the leading forelimb compared to the trailing forelimb. The peak toe position of the leading forelimb spatially corresponds to the transition point from flexion to extension of the elbow joint. This transition appeared to be controlled mainly by an offset of EMG activity of the elbow flexor, the biceps brachii muscle. In contrast, the trailing forelimb appeared to be controlled by the shoulder and wrist joints. These results suggest that the toe trajectory of the leading forelimb is more accurately regulated than that of the trailing forelimb. In addition, the activities of the elbow flexor may in part contribute to the toe trajectory of the leading forelimb.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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