A model of pattern generation of cockroach walking reconsidered

J Neurobiol. 1986 Jul;17(4):317-28. doi: 10.1002/neu.480170406.


Cockroaches that have been decapitated or that have cut thoracic connectives can show rhythmic bursting in motoneurons to intrinsic leg muscles. These preparations have been studied as models for walking and to evaluate the functions of leg proprioceptors. The present study demonstrates that headless cockroaches walk extremely poorly and slowly with considerable discoordination of motoneuronal activity, these preparations show rhythmic motoneuron bursting that is similar to righting responses (attempts to turn upright) of intact animals when placed on their backs, and bursting is inhibited when a headless animal is turned or turns itself upright. Thus, rhythmic motoneuron activity of these preparations is most probably attempted righting rather than walking. It is concluded that the headless cockroach is useful for understanding the motor mechanisms underlying righting and walking but is not of value in assessing the functions of proprioceptive feedback.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cockroaches / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Proprioception
  • Reflex / physiology