We have combined high-speed video motion analysis of leg movements with electromyogram (EMG) recordings from leg muscles in cockroaches running on a treadmill. The mesothoracic (T2) and metathoracic (T3) legs have different kinematics. While in each leg the coxa-femur (CF) joint moves in unison with the femur-tibia (FT) joint, the relative joint excursions differ between T2 and T3 legs. In T3 legs, the two joints move through approximately the same excursion. In T2 legs, the FT joint moves through a narrower range of angles than the CF joint. In spite of these differences in motion, no differences between the T2 and T3 legs were seen in timing or qualitative patterns of depressor coxa and extensor tibia activity. The average firing frequencies of slow depressor coxa (Ds) and slow extensor tibia (SETi) motor neurons are directly proportional to the average angular velocity of their joints during stance. The average Ds and SETi firing frequency appears to be modulated on a cycle-by-cycle basis to control running speed and orientation. In contrast, while the frequency variations within Ds and SETi bursts were consistent across cycles, the variations within each burst did not parallel variations in the velocity of the relevant joints.
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Accepted: 24 May 1997
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Watson, J., Ritzmann, R. Leg kinematics and muscle activity during treadmill running in the cockroach, Blaberus discoidalis : I. Slow running. J Comp Physiol A 182, 11–22 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s003590050153
- Key words Locomotion
- Slow motor neurons
- Tripod gait