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Neuronal control of locomotion in the lobsterHomarus americanus

II. Types of walking leg reflexes

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  1. 1.

    The reflex organization of the lobster (Homarus americanus) walking system was examined by electromyographic recording from several walking leg muscles during passive sinusoidal movements of single leg joints. Reflexes resulting from movements of the thoraco-coxal, coxo-basal, merocarpopodite and carpo-protopodite joints of the third walking leg were examined.

  2. 2.

    The evoked reflexes display directional reciprocity with regard to the intensity of reflex discharge in single muscles and the particular ensemble of muscles activated by joint movements in opposite directions. In most cases, the intensity of reflex discharge is directly correlated with the angular velocity of joint movement (Fig. 3, Table 1). On this basis, it is proposed that the reflexes are mediated by unidirectional velocity sensitive proprioreceptors.

  3. 3.

    Four functional classes of reflexes are described (Table 2): resistance (negative feedback) reflexes, which oppose the passive joint movement; reinforcing (positive feedback) reflexes, which augment the passive movement; distributed reflexes, which excite muscles extrinsic to the passively moved joint; and intersegmental reflexes, which activate at least one muscle in the anterior ipsilateral leg. The possible roles that the reflexes might play during walking are discussed.

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Correspondence to Joseph L. Ayers.

Additional information

Supported by NIH Grant NS 09050 to W.J.D.

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Ayers, J.L., Davis, W.J. Neuronal control of locomotion in the lobsterHomarus americanus . J. Comp. Physiol. 115, 29–46 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00667783

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  • Functional Classis
  • Joint Movement
  • Passive Movement
  • Single Muscle
  • Neuronal Control