Motion analysis of leg joints associated with escape turns of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana

J Comp Physiol A. 1992 Sep;171(2):183-94. doi: 10.1007/BF00188926.


Considerable information is now available on the neural organization of the escape system of the American cockroach. To relate these data to the behavior, we need detailed information on the movements made at the principle leg joints that produce the turn. We used motion analysis of high speed video records to acquire such information. Records from both free ranging and tethered animals were analyzed. 1. We analyzed individual joint movements using a tethered preparation. Stimuli from 4 different angles around the animal were used. For all wind angles, the femur-tibia (FT) joint on the mesothoracic leg that is ipsilateral to the wind source extended while the contralateral mesothoracic FT joint flexed. This moved both of these legs laterally toward the wind source. In freely moving animals the FT movements provide forces that turn the animal away from the wind source. 2. The ipsilateral mesothoracic coxa-femur (CF) joint extended for all wind angles. The contralateral mesothoracic CF joint extended in response to most winds from the rear, but switched to flexion in response to wind from the side and front. As a result of these joint movements, rear wind resulted in rearward movements of the contralateral mesothoracic leg, while side and front wind resulted in more forward movements of that leg. 3. The CF and FT joints for both ipsilateral and contralateral metathoracic legs extended to wind from the rear and switched to flexion as the wind was placed at more anterior positions around the animal. In freely moving animals, extension of these joints would push the animal forward. Flexion would pull the animal backward. 4. Several of the joints showed correlations between rate of movement and initial joint angle. That is, joints that were already flexed at the onset of stimulation tended to move at a faster rate to a final position than joints that started at a more extended position. 5. Metathoracic FT and CF joints showed a high degree of positive correlation during the escape movements. Indeed, many curves showing movement of metathoracic FT and CF joints with time were virtually identical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Periplaneta / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Videotape Recording
  • Wind