Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 192, Issue 10, pp 1147–1164 | Cite as

Control of swing movement: influences of differently shaped substrate

  • Michael Schumm
  • Holk CruseEmail author
Original Paper


Stick insects were studied while walking on different substrates. The trajectories of swing movements are recorded. The starting position of a swing movement is varied in vertical direction and in the direction parallel to body long axis. The trajectories found cannot be predicted by an ANN (Swingnet1) proposed earlier to describe swing movements. However, a modified network (Swingnet2) allows for a satisfying description of the behavioral results. Walking on a narrow treadwheel leads to different swing trajectories compared to walking on a broad treadwheel. These trajectories cannot be described by Swingnet1, too. The form of the swing trajectory may depend on the direction of the force vector by which the leg acts on the ground in the preceding stance. Based on this assumption, an alternative hypothesis (Swingnet3) is proposed that can quantitatively describe all results of our experiment. When stick insects walk from a wide to a narrow substrate, transition between different swing trajectories does not change gradually over time. Rather, the form of the trajectory is determined by the current sensory input of the leg on a step-to-step basis. Finally, four different avoidance reflexes and their implementation into swing movements are investigated and described by a quantitative simulation.


Stick insect Walking Swing movement Simulation Antagonistic control 



Anterior extreme position


Coxal swing position


Coxa–Trochanter joint


Femur–Tibia joint


Posterior extreme position


Swing extreme position


Thorax–Coxa joint



This work was supported by DFG grant Cr58/10-1 and by the EC IST program SPARK. Experiments comply with the “Principles of animal care”, publication No. 86-23, revised 1985 of the National Institute of Health, and also with the current laws of the Federal Republic of Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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