Simultaneous control of two rhythmical behaviors. II. Hindlimb walking with paw-shake response in spinal cat

J Neurophysiol. 1986 Jul;56(1):184-95. doi: 10.1152/jn.1986.56.1.184.


The simultaneous control of the hindlimb paw-shake response and hindlimb walking at slow treadmill speeds (0.2-0.4 m/s) was examined in adult cats spinalized at the T12 level, 3-6 mo earlier. Paw shaking was elicited by either 1) application of adhesive tape or 2) water to the right hindpaw. To assess intralimb and interlimb coordination of the combined behaviors, activity from selected flexor and extensor muscles at the hip, knee, and ankle was recorded, and the kinematics of these joints were determined from high-speed cinefilm. When paw shaking was combined with hindlimb walking, the response in the stimulated limb was initiated during swing (F phase) of the step cycle. The onset of knee extensor activity provided the transition from the flexor synergy of swing to the mixed synergy of paw shake. At the end of the paw shake, an extensor synergy initiated the E-1 phase of swing, and the resultant joint motion was in-phase extension at the hip, knee, and ankle to lower the paw for contact with the treadmill belt. During the rapid (81 ms) paw-shake cycles, knee extensor and ankle flexor muscles exhibited single, coactive bursts that were reciprocal with coactive hip and ankle extensor bursts. This mixed synergy was reflected in the limb coordination, as knee flexion coincided with ankle extension and knee flexion coincided with ankle extension. Phasing of hip motions was variable, reflecting the role of the proximal in stabilization during paw shake (16). Although the number of paw-shake cycles combined during swing varied greatly from 2 to 14, average cycle periods, burst durations, and intralimb synergies were similar to those previously reported for spinal cats tested under conditions in which the trunk was suspended and hindlimbs were pendent (23, 27). For step cycles during which a long paw-shake response of 8-14 cycles occurred, swing duration of the shaking limb increased by 1 s, and during this prolonged interval, the contralateral hindlimb completed two support steps. Stance duration of the support steps was also prolonged. This adjustment maximized the duration of paw-contact and minimized any period of nonsupport by the contralateral hindlimb during paw shake. Completion of the paw-shake response was followed by either an alternating, or a nonalternating, gait pattern on the recovery steps. One spinal cat combined locomotion with short two-cycle paw-shake responses, and because the shortened response was limited primarily to the time ordinarily devoted to swing, interlimb adjustments were slight.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Decerebrate State*
  • Forelimb / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Locomotion*
  • Periodicity*