Pattern Generation for Walking Movements

  • Ulrich Bässler


Walking is a very variable kind of movement. The analysis of the neural network producing such a variable motor output is shown for the stick insect, but there is some probability that many of the statements are also valid for walking in general. The experimental results allow us to make the following hypotheses. Each leg has its own pattern generator for walking movements. Higher centers recommend walking direction and gait by opening or closing coordinating pathways between these pattern generators, but the actual decision is made under the influence of sense organs. Each pattern generator is built-up of subunits (approximately one for each joint). The coordination of the subunits may vary, and the subunits can also be used for the control of other active movements. Each subunit contains sense organs as integral parts. In the denervated preparation at least some of the subunits are able to produce an irregular alternation, but there is no coordination between them.


Active Reaction Stance Phase Swing Phase Stick Insect Chordotonal Organ 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bässler U (1977) Sensory control of leg movement in the stick insect Carausius morosus. Biol Cybern 25: 61–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bässler U (1983) Neural basis of elementary behavior in stick insects. In: Braitenberg V (ed) Studies in brain function. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bässler U (1986a) Afferent control of walking movements in the stick insect Cuniculina impigra. II: ReflexGoogle Scholar
  4. reversal and the release of the swing phase in the restrained foreleg. J Comp Physiol 158: 351–361 Bässler U (1986b) On the definition of central pattern generator and its sensory control. Bio! Cybern 54: 65–69Google Scholar
  5. Bässler U (1988) Functional principles of pattern generation for walking movements of stick insect forelegs: the role of the femoral chordotonal organ afferences. JEipBio! 136: 125–147Google Scholar
  6. Bässler U, Dübner C, Fahrig T (1987) Motor output oscillations in denervated thoracic ganglia of walking stick insects. Zoo! Jb Physiol 91: 393–401Google Scholar
  7. Bässler U, Foth E, Breutel G (1985) The inherent walking direction differs for the prothoracic and metathoracic legs of stick insects. JExp Bio! 116: 301–311Google Scholar
  8. Bässler U, Wegner U (1983) Motor output of the denervated thoracic ventral nerve cord in the stick insect Carausius morosus. J Pxp Bio1105: 127–145Google Scholar
  9. Cruse H (1979) The control of the anterior extreme position of the hindleg of a walking insect, Carausius morosus Physiol Entomo14: 121–124Google Scholar
  10. Cruse H (1985) Which parameters control the leg movement of a walking insect? II: The start of the swing phase. JEep Bio! 116: 357–362Google Scholar
  11. Cruse H, Knauth A, Schwarze W (1987) Coordination of middle and hind legs of walking stick insects. In: Mazzini M, Scali V (eds) Stick insects, phylogeny and reproduction. Univ Siena and Univ Bologna Italy, pp 87–96Google Scholar
  12. Dean J, Wendler G (1983) Stick insect locomotion on a walking wheel: interleg coordination of leg position. J Erp Bio! 103: 75–94Google Scholar
  13. Foth E, Bässler U (1985) Leg movements of stick insects walking with five legs on a treadwheel and with one leg on a motor-driven belt. I: General results and 1:1 coordination. Bio! Cybern 51: 313–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Graham D (1972) A behavioural analysis of the temporal organisation of walking movements in the first instar and adult stick insects (Carausius morosus). J Comp Physiol8l: 23–52Google Scholar
  15. Grillner S, Zangger P (1984) The effect of dorsal root transection on the efferent motor pattern in the cat’s hindlimb during locomotion. Acta Physiol Scand 120: 393–405PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hofmann T, Koch UT (1985) Acceleration receptors in the femoral chordotonal organ of the stick insect, Cuniculina impigra. J Exp Bio! 114: 225–237Google Scholar
  17. Hofmann T, Koch UT, Bässler U (1985) Physiology of the femoral chordotonal organ in the stick insect, Cuni culina impigra. J Exp Bio! 114: 207–223Google Scholar
  18. Kien J (1983) The initiation and maintenance of walking in the locust: an alternative to the command concept. Proc R Soc (Loud) B 219: 137–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Weiland G, Koch UT (1987) Sensory feedback during active movements of stick insects. J Exp Bio1133: 137–156Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Bässler
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich BiologieUniversität KaiserslauternKaiserslauternFR Germany

Personalised recommendations