Mechanosensory Signal Processing: Impact on and Modulation by Pattern-Generating Networks, Exemplified in Locust Flight and Walking


In the control of locomotor movements, central pattern generating networks and sensory input interact in different ways. Sensory feedback may set the timing for the generation of central pattern elements, and in this way serve to trigger critical transitions between (centrally programmed) phases of a movement. Conversely, central network action may modulate sensory signal processing in a phase-dependent manner, and thus guarantee appropriate reflex responses at all phases of a cyclic movement. The former aspect is exemplified here by the reset of the wingbeat rhythm in the locust by input from a wing proprioceptor, the tegula. The latter aspect is illustrated by the modulatory effects a rhythmic central drive has on the processing of leg mechanosensory signals by spiking local interneurones in the locust. Both mechanisms will usually coexist and interact in the generation of the motor output, requiring close interaction of central and peripheral elements.

Certain traits of these insect motor control networks, and possibly of neural circuits in general, appear to reflect developmental and evolutionary cues, rather than genuine computational requirements. This concerns in particular the frequent observation of “weak” or “redundant” synaptic contacts in neural networks and the high degree of interconnectivity.


Sensory Feedback Stick Insect Sensory Signal Processing Locust Flight Anterior Wing Margin 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Wolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Fakultät für BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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