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Comparison of motor patterns in the intact and deafferented flight system of the locust

II. Intracellular recordings from flight motoneurons


  1. 1.

    A preparation is described which allows intracellular recording from motoneurons during flight in tethered locusts with normal sensory input from wing receptors (Fig. 1).

  2. 2.

    The pattern of synaptic input to all the main flight motoneurons was recorded (Fig. 3) and compared to the synaptic input to the same motoneurons following deafferentation (Fig. 6). Clear differences were observed, particularly in the input pattern to elevator motoneurons. In intact animals elevator motoneurons received a powerful and rapid depolarization shortly after the termination of depressor activity. This phasic depolarization of elevators was not generated in deafferented preparations. Instead a distinctly different phasic depolarization occurred immediately preceding depressor activity. Transitions between the intact and the deafferented patterns of synaptic input were observed when flight slowed down in some intact and partially deafferented animals (Fig. 8). During these transitions both components of synaptic input to elevators could be observed.

  3. 3.

    The changes in the pattern of synaptic input to elevator motoneurons following deafferentation explain all the major changes in the flight motor pattern observed in EMG recordings from flight muscles. In particular, the delayed and variable onset of elevator activity following depressor activity in deafferented preparations is due to the absence of the early component of synaptic input to elevators.

  4. 4.

    We conclude that afferent input from wing receptors is necessary for the generation of the phasic depolarization which occurs in elevator motoneurons of intact animals. This result leads us to question the adequacy of the concept of central pattern generation for explaining the production of the flight motor pattern in locusts.

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Wolf, H., Pearson, K.G. Comparison of motor patterns in the intact and deafferented flight system of the locust. J. Comp. Physiol. 160, 269–279 (1987).

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  • Intact Animal
  • Synaptic Input
  • Motor Pattern
  • Central Pattern Generation
  • Afferent Input