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J Neurobiol. 1997 Dec;33(7):891-913.

Sensorimotor pathways involved in interjoint reflex action of an insect leg.

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Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany.


Coordination of motor output between leg joints is crucial for the generation of posture and active movements in multijointed appendages of legged organisms. We investigated in the stick insect the information flow between the middle leg femoral chordotonal organ (fCO), which measures position and movement in the femur-tibia (FT) joint and the motoneuron pools supplying the next proximal leg joint, the coxa-trochanteral (CT) joint. In the inactive animal, elongation of the fCO (by flexing the FT joint) induced a depolarization in eight of nine levator trochanteris motoneurons, with a suprathreshold activation of one to three motoneurons. Motoneurons of the depressor trochanteris muscle were inhibited by fCO elongation. Relaxation signals, i.e., extension of the FT joint, activated both levator and depressor motoneurons; i.e., both antagonistic muscles were coactivated. Monosynaptic as well as polysynaptic pathways contribute to interjoint reflex actions in the stick insect leg. fCO afferents were found to induce short latency EPSPs in levator motoneurons, providing evidence for direct connections between fCO afferents and levator motoneurons. In addition, neuronal pathways via intercalated interneurons were identified that transmit sensory information from the fCO onto levator and/or depressor motoneurons. Finally, we describe two kinds of alterations in interjoint reflex action: (a) With repetitive sensory stimulation, this interjoint reflex action shows a habituation-like decrease in strength. (b) In the actively moving animal, interjoint reflex action in response to fCO elongation, mimicking joint flexion, qualitatively remained the same sign, but with a marked increase in strength, indicating an increased influence of sensory signals from the FT joint onto the adjacent CT joint in the active animal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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