Rhythmic motor activity and interlimb co-ordination in the developing pouch young of a wallaby (Macropus eugenii)

J Physiol. 1997 Jun 15;501 ( Pt 3)(Pt 3):623-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.1997.623bm.x.


1. The forelimb motor behaviour of developing wallaby was studied. A clock-like alternating movement was reactivated whenever the animal was removed from the pouch. 2. Forelimb stepping frequency increased during the first 3 weeks of development, while the phase relationship remained constant. Forelimb activity could be affected by altering the afferent feedback from the contralateral limb, or an increase in ambient temperature. 3. In vitro experiments were performed using an isolated brainstem-spinal cord preparation from animals up to 6 weeks postnatal. Fictive locomotor activity could be evoked by electrical stimulation or bath-applied NMDA (< 10 microM). 4. Bath-applied strychnine (10-25 microM) and bicuculline (10-50 microM) disrupted the phase relationship between motor pools, while rhythmic motor discharge remained in the absence of these inhibitory pathways. 5. The present findings indicate that the pattern generator that underlies the robust forelimb movement during the first journey to the pouch is retained for different motor functions during in-pouch development. The neural network that underlies such behaviour can be divided into two major components, a rhythm generator within each hemicord, and a pattern co-ordinating pathway which involve both glycinergic and GABAergic interneurones.

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / drug effects
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Brain Stem / drug effects
  • Brain Stem / growth & development
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Forelimb
  • GABA Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Glycine Agents / pharmacology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Macropodidae / growth & development*
  • Macropodidae / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Periodicity*
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Strychnine / pharmacology


  • GABA Antagonists
  • Glycine Agents
  • Strychnine
  • Bicuculline