Neural control of limb coordination. I. Comparison of hatching and walking motor output patterns in normal and deafferented chicks

J Neurosci. 1987 Aug;7(8):2320-30.


Previous work has shown that the neural circuits underlying the leg movements of walking and hatching coexist in post-hatching chicks (Bekoff and Kauer, 1984). In the present study, quantitative analysis of leg EMGs shows that there are some similarities, but also significant differences, in the motor output patterns of walking and hatching. This study examines the effect of removing sensory feedback from the legs on the production of the distinctive leg motor patterns. The temporal characteristics and interlimb coordination of hatching and walking are little affected. However, major changes in intralimb motor output patterns are seen when compared to records from normal chicks. These changes fall into one of 2 categories. Some parameters show similar changes in both behaviors after deafferentation (e.g., increases in flexor burst durations and cycle period). This suggests that certain features of sensory input from the legs normally modulate the hatching and walking pattern-generating circuitry in similar ways. Other parameters show convergence. That is, these aspects of the 2 intralimb motor patterns become more similar to each other after removal of sensory input. This is consistent with the hypothesis that some feature of sensory input from the legs normally modulates one set of multiuse intralimb circuitry to produce different output patterns. In general, the walking pattern becomes more like hatching after deafferentation, rather than the reverse, which suggests that the hatching pattern is a more basic one. The maintenance of some residual differences in intralimb motor patterns after leg deafferentation suggests that other sources of modulation must also be involved, or that there are some additional elements of circuitry that are called into play during the normal production of walking and hatching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Denervation
  • Electromyography
  • Feedback
  • Hindlimb / innervation*
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Locomotion*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*