Across species a variety of common organisational principles can be detected which operate during the control of locomotory behavior and which can be described as forms of prerational intelligence. These principles involve strategies used to automate the transition between the different phases of the step cycle. For example, it was previously demonstrated that very different species such as cockroaches and cats require that the leg is no longer involved in weight support at the end of the stance phase in order to enable the initiation of the swing phase (Pearson & Duysens 1976). This unloading is signaled by a decrease in activity of load receptors. Similarly, a wide variety of species including cat, crayfish and stick insect, use special position receptors to signal that the leg is at the end of the stance phase and they utilize this information to facilitate the transition from stance to swing (Grillner 1985; Cruse 1990; Clarac 1991; Pearson 1993). For the two groups of receptors involved (load and position), the structural details differ widely across different species. Nevertheless, the principles and the basic wiring diagrams underlying the use of these receptors in the regulation of gait, are surprisingly similar. They reflect a common form of prerational intelligence, reinvented many times during evolution (“evolutionary convergence or parallelism”).


Tibialis Anterior Stance Phase Swing Phase Ventral Root Cutaneous Afferents 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques Duysens
    • 1
  1. 1.Universiteit NijmegenThe Netherlands

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