Contribution of the motor cortex to the structure and the timing of hindlimb locomotion in the cat: a microstimulation study

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jul;94(1):657-72. doi: 10.1152/jn.01245.2004. Epub 2005 Mar 23.


We used microstimulation to examine the contribution of the motor cortex to the structure and timing of the hindlimb step cycle during locomotion in the intact cat. Stimulation was applied to the hindlimb representation of the motor cortex in 34 sites in three cats using either standard glass-insulated microelectrodes (16 sites in 1 cat) or chronically implanted microwire electrodes (18 sites in 2 cats). Stimulation at just suprathreshold intensities with the cat at rest produced multi-joint movements at a majority of sites (21/34, 62%) but evoked responses restricted to a single joint, normally the ankle, at the other 13/34 (38%) sites. Stimulation during locomotion generally evoked larger responses than the same stimulation at rest and frequently activated additional muscles. Stimulation at all 34 sites evoked phase-dependent responses in which stimulation in swing produced transient increases in activity in flexor muscles while stimulation during stance produced transient decreases in activity in extensors. Stimulation with long (200 ms) trains of stimuli in swing produced an increased level of activity and duration of flexor muscles without producing changes in cycle duration. In contrast, stimulation during stance decreased the duration of the extensor muscle activity and initiated a new and premature period of swing, resetting the step cycle. Stimulation of the pyramidal tract in two of these three cats as well as in two additional ones produced similar effects. The results show that the motor cortex is capable of influencing hindlimb activity during locomotion in a similar manner to that seen for the forelimb.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electric Stimulation* / methods
  • Electrodes
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Locomotion / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / radiation effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / radiation effects
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Time Factors