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J Neurophysiol. 1994 Feb;71(2):603-10.

Corrective responses to loss of ground support during walking. I. Intact cats.

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Division of Neuroscience, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


1. In the cat step cycle the electromyographic (EMG) activity in ankle extensor muscles commences approximately 70 ms before foot contact. There is a sharp peak between 10 and 25 ms after contact and the EMG then declines for the remainder of the stance phase. It has been posited that the abrupt transition in EMG after contact is the consequence of reflexes elicited by the large barrage of afferent input that signals foot touchdown. However, it is also possible that the basic profile might be generated within the CNS, with little modification by afferent input. 2. These ideas were tested in 11 normal cats. We compared EMG responses and hindlimb kinematics in steps with normal ground support and steps in which an actuator-controlled trap door unexpectedly opened, withdrawing ground support just before foot contact. 3. In the absence of ground support the transition in EMG activity was still present. The averaged EMG pattern was similar for at least 30 ms after the foot passed through the plane of the floor. We conclude that the basic extensor activation profile in this part of the cycle is generated centrally and is not substantially altered by afferent input. 4. Between 35 and 200 ms after contact the stance phase was aborted and the foot was lifted smartly out of the hole. This reaction varied both in latency and kinematic detail, suggesting a fairly complex corrective response.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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