Neuromodulators orchestrate complex behavioral routines by their multiple and combined effects on the nervous system. In the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, frontal ganglion neurons innervate foregut dilator muscles and play a key role in the control of foregut motor patterns. To further investigate the role of the frontal ganglion in locust behavior, we currently focus on the frontal ganglion central pattern generator as a target for neuromodulation. Application of octopamine, a well-studied insect neuromodulator, generated reversible disruption of frontal ganglion rhythmic activity. The threshold for the modulatory effects of octopamine was 10(-6) mol l(-1), and 10(-4) mol l(-1) always abolished the ongoing rhythm. In contrast to this straightforward modulation, allatostatin, previously reported to be a myoinhibitor of insect gut muscles, showed complex, tri-modal, dose-dependent effects on frontal ganglion rhythmic pattern. Using a novel cross-correlation analysis technique, we show that different allatostatin concentrations have very different effects not only on cycle period but also on temporal characteristics of the rhythmic bursts of action potentials. Allatostatin also altered the frontal ganglion rhythm in vivo. The analysis technique we introduce may be instrumental in the study of not fully characterized neural circuits and their modulation. The physiological significance of our results and the role of the modulators in locust behavior are discussed.