Spatiotemporal control of interlimb coordination during transverse split-belt locomotion with 1:1 or 2:1 coupling patterns in intact adult cats

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Oct 15;112(8):2006-18. doi: 10.1152/jn.00236.2014. Epub 2014 Jul 23.


Interlimb coordination must be flexible to adjust to an ever-changing environment. Here adjustments in interlimb coordination were quantified during tied-belt (equal speed of the fore- and hindlimbs) and transverse split-belt (unequal speed of the fore- and hindlimbs) locomotion in five intact adult cats. Cats performed tied-belt locomotion at 0.4 m/s and 0.8 m/s. For transverse split-belt locomotion, the forelimbs stepped at 0.4 m/s and 0.8 m/s while the hindlimbs stepped at 0.8 m/s (4F8H condition) and 0.4 m/s (8F4H condition), respectively. In the 8F4H condition, the forelimbs could take two steps within one hindlimb cycle, or a 2:1 forelimb-hindlimb relationship. The sequence of limbs contacting the ground and the duration of support periods were differentially modified if the forelimbs stepped faster or slower than the hindlimbs. During transverse split-belt locomotion, the hindlimbs performed longer strides when the forelimbs took shorter strides. In the 8F4H condition with a 2:1 forelimb-hindlimb relationship, phase and gap intervals for the first and second steps were found around certain values and were not randomly distributed, indicating that a new coupling pattern was established. However, temporal and spatial coordination indexes revealed that bilateral coordination between hindlimbs was less accurate and more variable with a 2:1 coupling pattern. Importantly, the animals did not stumble, indicating that spatial and temporal adjustments in interlimb coordination allowed the animals to maintain dynamic stability. The results provide a better understanding of the spatiotemporal adjustments that take place among the four limbs during locomotion when interlimb coordination is challenged.

Keywords: interlimb coordination; locomotion; transverse split belt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Male