Leg kinematics and muscle activity during treadmill running in the cockroach, Blaberus discoidalis: II. Fast running

J Comp Physiol A. 1998 Jan;182(1):23-33. doi: 10.1007/s003590050154.


We have combined kinematic and electromyogram (EMG) analysis of running Blaberus discoidalis to examine how middle and hind leg kinematics vary with running speed and how the fast depressor coxa (Df) and fast extensor tibia (FETi) motor neurons affect kinematic parameters. In the range 2.5-10 Hz, B. discoidalis increases step frequency by altering the joint velocity and by reducing the time required for the transition from flexion to extension. For both Df and FETi the timing of recruitment coincides with the maximal frequency seen for the respective slow motor neurons. Df is first recruited at the beginning of coxa-femur (CF) extension. FETi is recruited in the latter half of femur-tibia (FT) extension during stance. Single muscle potentials produced by these fast motor neurons do not have pronounced effects on joint angular velocity during running. The transition from CF flexion to extension was abbreviated in those cycles with a Df potential occurring during the transition. One effect of Df activity during running may be to phase shift the beginning of joint extension so that the transition is sharpened. FETi is associated with greater FT extension at higher running speeds and may be necessary to overcome high joint torques at extended FT joint angles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cockroaches / physiology*
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Joints / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology
  • Running / physiology*