The timing of bursts of motor activity in extensor muscles in the coxae of pairs of legs in intact freely walking American cockroaches was studied. The timing of bursts in adjacent and non-adjacent leg pairs generally reflected the common alternating tripod gait of these insects. Detailed study of the timing further revealed two previously unreported features. (1) The timing of extensor bursts in the middle legs relative to bursts in the rear legs was more variable than it was relative to those in the front legs. This difference in variability was statistically significant for the means of bursts when all insects were considered together as well as for bursts in individual insects. An apparent difference in variability of the timing of burst starts compared to burst ends for any one leg pair was not significant. (2) There was a shift in the timing of motor bursts relative to one another when an insect walked fast such that motor bursts in the middle legs tended to lag farther behind those in the front legs, and those in the rear legs tended to lag farther behind those in the middle legs compared to the timing during slow walking. This shift was apparent in both burst starts and burst ends, although more obvious in the former. It occurred in both ipsilateral and contralateral leg pairs, and in both the mean data and the data for individual insects. The implications of these characteristics of the timing data are discussed in terms of the neural organization of insect walking.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science(all)