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Published December 15, 1996 | Published
Journal Article Open

Central Generation of Grooming Motor Patterns and Interlimb Coordination in Locusts


Coordinated bursts of leg motoneuron activity were evoked in locusts with deefferented legs by tactile stimulation of sites that evoke grooming behavior. This suggests that insect thoracic ganglia contain central pattern generators for directed leg movements. Motoneuron recordings were made from metathoracic and mesothoracic nerves, after eliminating all leg motor innervation, as well as all input from the brain, subesophageal ganglion, and prothoracic ganglion. Strong, brief trochanteral levator motoneuron bursts occurred, together with silence of the slow and fast trochanteral depressor motoneurons and activation of the common inhibitor motoneuron. The metathoracic slow tibial extensor motoneuron was active in a pattern distinct from its activity during walking or during rhythms evoked by the muscarinic agonist pilocarpine. Preparations in which the metathoracic ganglion was isolated from all other ganglia could still produce fictive motor patterns in response to tactile stimulation of metathoracic locations. Bursts of trochanteral levator and depressor motoneurons were clearly coordinated between the left and right metathoracic hemiganglia and also between the mesothoracic and the ipsilateral metathoracic ganglia. These data provide clear evidence for centrally generated interlimb coordination in an insect.

Additional Information

© 1996 Society for Neuroscience. Received May 15, 1996; revised Aug. 27, 1996; accepted Sept. 20, 1996. This research was supported by a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship to A.B. and a National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship to G.L. We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

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August 22, 2023