Reflex Reversal in the Walking Systems of Mammals and Arthropods

  • K. G. Pearson


Recent investigations on cats, crabs, crayfish and insects have demonstrated that the reflex influence from some leg proprioceptors is reversed during locomotor activity. A general feature of this phenomenon is that the reversed reflex acts to reinforce the activity of motoneurones active during the stance phase of locomotion. In the cat, feedback from extensor group Ib afferents (arising from the force-sensitive Golgi tendon organs, GTOs) has an excitatory action on extensor motoneurones. This action of the GTOs during stance may function to regulate the level of activity in extensor motoneurones according to the load carried by the limb and/or to prevent the initiation of flexor burst activity when the extensor muscles are loaded. In arthropods, the reinforcing action of feedback from velocity sensitive afferents (chordotonal organs in crustacea and insects, and muscle receptor organs in crustacea) may regulate the speed of shortening of load bearing muscles.


Locomotor Activity Stance Phase Experimental Brain Research Stick Insect Locomotor Rhythm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baldissera, F., Hultborn, H. & Illert, M. (1981) Integration in spinal neuronal systems. In Handbook of Physiology. The Nervous System, Sect.l, Vol. 2. Edited by J.M. Brookhart, V.B. Mountcastle, V.B. Brooks and S.R. Geiger. American Physiological Society, Bethesda. pp. 509–595Google Scholar
  2. Barnes, W.J., Spirito, C.P. & Evoy, W.H. (1972) Nervous control of walking in the crab Cardisoma guanhumi. II. Role of resistance reflexes in walking. Zeitschrift vergl Physiologie 76, 16–31Google Scholar
  3. Bässler, U. (1988) Functional principles of pattern generation for walking movements of stick insect forelegs: the role of femoral chordotonal organ afferences. Journal of Experimental Biology 136, 125–147Google Scholar
  4. Conway, B.A., Hultborn, H. & Kiehn, O. (1987) Proprioceptive input resets central locomotor rhythm in the spinal cat. Experimental Brain Research 68, 643–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cruse, H. (1985) Which parameters control the leg movement of a walking insect? I. Velocity control during the stance phase. Journal of Experimental Biology 116, 343–355Google Scholar
  6. DiCaprio, R.A. & Clarac, F. (1981) Reversal of a walking leg reflex elicited by a muscle receptor. Journal of Experimental Biology 90, 197–203Google Scholar
  7. Dietz, V., Schmidtbleicher, H.R. & Noth, J. (1979) Neuronal mechanisms of human locomotion. Journal of Neurophysiology 42, 1212–1223PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Duysens, J.D. & Pearson, K.G. (1980) Inhibition of flexor burst generation by loading ankle extensor muscles in walking cats. Experimental Brain Research 187, 31–332Google Scholar
  9. Duysens, J.D. & Tax, A.A.M. (1994) Interlimb reflexes during gait in cat and man. In: Interlimb Coordination: Neural, Dynamical, and Cognitive Constrains. Edited by S.P. Swinnen, H. Heuer, J. Massion and P. Casaer. Academic Press, New York. In press.Google Scholar
  10. Duysens, J.D., Tax A.A.M., Trippel, M. & Dietz, V. (1992) Phase-dependent reversal of reflexly induced movements during human gait. Experimental Brain Research 90, 404–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eccles, J.C., Eccles, R.M. & Lundberg, A. (1957a) The convergence of monosynaptic excitatory afferents on to many different species of alpha motoneurones. Journal of Physiology 137, 22–50PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Eccles, J.C., Eccles, R.M. & Lundberg, A. (1957b) Synaptic actions on motoneurones caused by impulses in golgi tendon organ afferents. Journal of Physiology 138, 227–252PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Edgley, S.A. & Jankowska, E. (1987) An interneuronal relay for group I and II muscle afferents in the midlumbar segments of the cat spinal cord. Journal of Physiology 389, 647–674PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. El Manira, A., DiCaprio, R.A., Cattaert, D. & Clarac, F. (1991) Monosynaptic interjoint reflexes and their central modulation during fictive locomotion in crayfish. European Journal of Neuroscience 3, 1219–1231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gossard, J.P., Brownstone, R.M., Barajon, I. & Hultborn, H. (1994) Transmission in a locomotor-related group Ib pathway from hindlimb extensor muscles in the cat. Experimental Brain Research 98, 213–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grillner, S. (1981) Control of locomotion in bipeds, tetrapods and fish. In Handbook of Physiology, Sect.1, Vol. 2. The Nervous System, Motor Control, Edited by V.B. Brooks, American Physiological Society, Bethesda. pp. 1179–1236Google Scholar
  17. Grillner, S. & Rossignol, S. (1978) On the initiation of the swing phase of locomotion in chronic spinal cats. Brain Research 144, 411–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Head, S.I. & Bush, B.M.H. (1991) Proprioceptive reflex interactions with central motor rhythms in the isolated thoracic ganglion of the shore crab. Journal of Comparative Physiology 168, 445–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jankowska, E. (1992) Interneuronal relay in spinal pathways from proprioceptors. Progress in Neurobiology 38, 335–378PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jankowska, E. & McCrea, D.A. (1983) Shared reflex pathways from Ib tendon organ afferents and Ia muscle spindle afferents in the cat. Journal of Physiology 338, 99–111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Lundberg, A., Malmgren, K. & Schomburg, E.D. (1977) Cutaneous facilitation of transmission in reflex pathways from Ib afferents to motoneurones. Journal of Physiology 265, 763–780PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Lundberg, A., Malmgren, K. & Schomburg, E.D. (1978) The role of joint afferents in motor control exemplified by effects on reflex pathways from Ib afferents. Journal of Physiology 284, 327–343PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. McCrea, D.A. (1992) Can sense be made of spinal interneurone circuits? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15, 633–643Google Scholar
  24. Pearson, K.G. (1972) Central programming and reflex control of walking in the cockroach. Journal of Experimental Biology 56, 321–330Google Scholar
  25. Pearson, K.G. & Collins, D.F. (1993) Reversal of the influence of group Ib afferents from plantaris on activity in medial gastrocnemius muscle during locomotor activity. Journal of Neurophysiology 70, 1009–1017PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Pearson, K.G., Ramirez, J.M. & Jiang, W. (1992) Entrainment of the locomotor rhythm by group Ib afferents from ankle extensor muscles in spinal cats. Experimental Brain Research 90, 557–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rossignol, S., Lund, J.P. & Drew, T. (1988) The role of sensory inputs regulating pattern of rhythmical movements in higher vertebrates. In Neural Control of Rhythmic Movements in Vertebrates, Edited by A. Cohen, S. Rossignol and S. Grillner. John Wiley & Sons, New York. pp. 201–283Google Scholar
  28. Severin, F.V. (1970) The role of gamma motor system in the activation of the extensor alpha-motoneurones during controlled locomotion. Biophysics 14, 1138–1145Google Scholar
  29. Sillar, K.T. (1989) Synaptic modulation of cutaneous pathways in the vertebrate spinal cord. Seminars in Neuroscience 1, 45–54Google Scholar
  30. Sillar, K.T. (1991) Spinal pattern generation and sensory Gating mechanisms. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 1, 583–589PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sillar, K.T., Skorupski, P., Elson, R.C. & Bush, B.M.H. (1986) Two identified afferent neurones entrain a central locomotor rhythm generator. Nature 323, 440–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Skorupski, P. & Sillar, K.T. (1986) Phase-dependent reversal of reflexes mediated by the thoracocoxal muscle receptor organ in the crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus. Journal of Neurophysiology 55, 689–695PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Yang, J.F., Stein, R.B. & James, K.B. (1991) Contribution of peripheral afferents to the activation of the soleus muscle during walking in humans. Experimental Brain Research 87, 679–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. G. Pearson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations