Interlimb coordination in cat locomotion investigated with perturbation
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During locomotion of decerebrate and awake walking cats, perturbation (mechanical tap) was applied to the paw dorsum of the left forelimb (LF), and the responses of both forelimbs were recorded cinematographically and electromyographically (EMG). When the tap was applied during the LF stance phase, the duration of the ongoing LF stance was shortened by 10%; in the right forelimb (RF), the duration of the concomitant swing was shortened by 32%. A tap during the LF swing phase prolonged the duration of the ongoing LF swing phase and the concomitant RF stance phase by 55 and 15%, respectively. Analysis of RF joint angle excursions showed that the shortening of the RF swing phase was related mainly to acceleration of extension movement in the late swing phase; the prolongation of the RF stance phase was related to prolonged extension movement in the late stance phase. While EMG activities were relevant to these limb movements, a notable observation was that, by tapping the LF during the LF stance phase, EMG activity in the RF extensor started well before onset of the elbow extension movement to place down the limb; without the tap, the extensor activity started shortly after onset of the extension. Closely related to changes in phase durations of each forelimb, the period of bisupport phase where both forelimbs were in stance, was retained for more than 40% of that of unperturbed steps, even when the RF or LF made the first touchdown after the tap. The rostrocaudal level at RF touchdown after the tap was comparable to unperturbed steps. These findings on interlimb relation suggest that neural control ensures coordinated movements between symmetric limbs during locomotion.
Key wordsInterlimb coordination EMG Locomotion Perturbation
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