Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Control of Locomotion and Scratching in Turtles

  • Ari BerkowitzEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_42-4


The spinal cord contains central pattern generators, which are networks of neurons that can generate coordinated patterns of activity in motor neurons (motor patterns) in the absence of sensory feedback. The turtle spinal cord contains central pattern generators for several kinds of limb movements and is convenient to study physiologically because turtles, being diving animals, have evolved mechanisms to keep tissue healthy under low-oxygen (hypoxic) conditions. Turtle locomotion includes swimming and stepping. Spinal cord central pattern generators have been demonstrated in turtles for forward swimming and for three forms of scratching, a rhythmic behavior in which the same-side (ipsilateral) hind limb repeatedly rubs against a specific location on the body surface that has been irritated or tickled. Stimulation in a transition zone, at the border of the receptive fields for two forms of scratching, or simultaneous two-site stimulation for two forms of scratching, or for...


Spinal Cord Motor Neuron Hind Limb Motor Pattern Central Pattern Generator 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Cellular & Behavioral Neurobiology Graduate ProgramUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA