Phasic gain control of reflexes from the dorsum of the paw during spinal locomotion

Brain Res. 1977 Aug 19;132(1):121-39. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(77)90710-7.


In chronic spinal cats walking with their hindlimbs on a treadmill belt, tactile stimuli were applied to the dorsum of the paw during various phases of the step cycle. A stimulation during the swing phase evoked a flexion response with a concomitant crossed extension, whereas in stance it induced an increased ipsilateral extension. EMG-recordings show short latency reflex responses in flexors and extensors, respectively. The responses are organized such that latencies of knee muscles are shorter than those of ankle and hip muscles. The movements induced by the stimulations appear to be very meaningful during normal conditions in compensating for any unpredicted obstacle disturbing the movement of the paw during locomotion. Responses during forward flexion and during the support phase are well adapted to the ongoing locomotor activity and do not influence the interlimb coordination whereas a stimulation when the foot approaches the ground after the end of flexion disturbs the regular alternating pattern. Different possible mechanisms underlying this phase-dependent reflex reversal are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Hindlimb
  • Movement*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Reflex
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*