Generation of specific behaviors in a locust by local release into neuropil of the natural neuromodulator octopamine

J Neurobiol. 1984 Nov;15(6):481-506. doi: 10.1002/neu.480150607.


The natural insect neuromodulator octopamine (OCT) was released iontophoretically into regions of neuropil in locust metathoracic ganglia. A narrowly-defined site was found on one side of the ganglion at which release caused a prolonged bout of repetitive flex-extend-flex movements of the tibia on the injected side, at a frequency of from 2-3.5 Hz. When a bout had terminated, repetition of the OCT release caused an extremely similar bout to occur, and again with further treatments, indefinitely. OCT iontophoresis at the equivalent site on the contralateral side caused the contralateral flexor to make stepping movements. Two sites were found, in each half of the ganglion, at which similar OCT release evoked a bout of flight motor activity at 10 Hz. The flight bout involved both sides synchronously and nearly equally, except for a slightly greater motor output on the injected side. Evoked bouts lasted from 20 sec to 25 min depending on the preparation and amount of OCT released. At a site in the 6th abdominal ganglion of mature female locusts OCT release suppressed ongoing rhythmic oviposition digging evoked by severing the ventral nerve cord. A number of previously undescribed DUM neurons was encountered and their dendritic patterns, which are distinctive, determined following dye injection. A hypothesis, termed the Orchestration Hypothesis is presented, which considers how modulator neurons such as locust octopaminergic neurons, might be involved in the generation of specific behaviors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Flight, Animal
  • Ganglia / physiology*
  • Grasshoppers / physiology*
  • Iontophoresis
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Octopamine / pharmacology
  • Octopamine / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Octopamine