Neural control of Caenorhabditis elegans forward locomotion: the role of sensory feedback

Biol Cybern. 2008 Apr;98(4):339-51. doi: 10.1007/s00422-008-0212-6. Epub 2008 Mar 19.


This paper presents a simple yet biologically-grounded model for the neural control of Caenorhabditis elegans forward locomotion. We identify a minimal circuit within the C. elegans ventral cord that is likely to be sufficient to generate and sustain forward locomotion in vivo. This limited subcircuit appears to contain no obvious central pattern generated control. For that subcircuit, we present a model that relies on a chain of oscillators along the body which are driven by local and proximate mechano-sensory input. Computer simulations were used to study the model under a variety of conditions and to test whether it is behaviourally plausible. Within our model, we find that a minimal circuit of AVB interneurons and B-class motoneurons is sufficient to generate and sustain fictive forward locomotion patterns that are robust to significant environmental perturbations. The model predicts speed and amplitude modulation by the AVB command interneurons. An extended model including D-class motoneurons is included for comparison.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Feedback*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Sensation / physiology*