Interlimb coordination during fictive locomotion in the thalamic cat

Exp Brain Res. 1990;82(3):536-46. doi: 10.1007/BF00228795.


Efferent discharges in muscle nerves of the four limbs were recorded simultaneously during spontaneous fictive locomotion in thalamic cats with the goal of understanding how the central nervous system controls interlimb coordination during stepping. The onset of the bursts of activity in the nerve of a selected flexor muscle in each limb allowed the temporal and the phase relationships between the fictive step cycle of a pair of limbs to be determined. Our main results are the following: 1) the fictive step cycles of the two forelimbs are always strictly alternated whereas the phasing of the step cycles of either the two hindlimbs or pairs of homolateral or diagonal limbs is more variable; 2) the time interval between the onsets of the flexor bursts of one of the two pairs of diagonal limbs is independent of the step cycle duration; 3) distinct patterns of interlimb coordination exist during fictive locomotion; a small number of patterns of coordination involving all four limbs, which correspond to the walking and the trotting gaits in the intact cat, occur very frequently. The results demonstrate that the central nervous system deprived of phasic afferent inputs from the periphery has the capacity to generate most of the patterns of interlimb coordination which occur during real locomotion. They further support the view that the central pattern of interlimb coordination essentially results from diagonal interaction between a forelimb generator for locomotion and a hindlimb one.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Gait
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Thalamus / physiology*