The Role of Proprioceptive Feedback in the Regulation and Adaptation of Locomotor Activity

  • Tania Lam
  • Keir G. Pearson
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 508)


Feedback from muscle afferents is essential for locomotion to be functional under changing external conditions. In this article, we review the role of afferent feedback in adapting locomotor activity to transient and more sustained changes in sensory input in reduced and walking cat preparations. Much of the work on muscle afferent regulation of locomotion has focused on the regulation of stance phase activity. Proprioceptive feedback from extensor muscles during the stance phase ensures that the leg does not go into swing when loaded and that the magnitude of extensor activity is adequate for support. Proprioceptive feedback from flexor muscles towards the end of the stance phase facilitates the initiation of the swing phase of walking. Evidence that muscle afferent feedback also contributes to the magnitude and duration of flexor activity during the swing phase has been demonstrated recently. The regulation of the magnitude and duration of extensor and flexor activity during locomotion is mediated by monosynaptic, disynaptic, and polysynaptic muscle afferent pathways in the spinal cord. In addition to allowing for rapid adaptation in motor output during walking, afferent feedback from muscle proprioceptors is also involved in longer-term adaptations in response to changes in the biomechanical or neuromuscular properties of the walking system.


Tibialis Anterior Stance Phase Swing Phase Proprioceptive Feedback Muscle Afferents 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tania Lam
    • 1
  • Keir G. Pearson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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