Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms

Dürr V (2005)
Journal of Experimental Biology 208(12): 2253-2267.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
Appropriate coordination of stepping in adjacent legs is crucial for stable walking. Several leg coordination rules have been derived from behavioural experiments on walking insects, some of which also apply to arthropods with more than six legs and to four-legged walking vertebrates. Three of these rules affect the timing of stance-swing transition [rules 1 to 3 (sensu Cruse)]. They can give rise to normal leg coordination and adaptive responses to disturbances, as shown by kinematic simulations and dynamic hardware tests. In spite of their importance to the study of animal walking, the coupling strength associated with these rules has never been measured experimentally. Generally coupling strength of the underlying mechanisms has been considered constant rather than context-dependent. The present study analyses stepping patterns of the stick insect Carausius morosus during straight and curve walking sequences. To infer strength and efficacy of coupling between pairs of sender and receiver legs, the likelihood of the receiver leg being in swing is determined, given a certain delay relative to the time of a swing-stance (or stance-swing) transition in the sender leg. This is compared to a corresponding measure for independent, hence uncoupled, step sequences. The difference is defined as coupling strength. The ratio of coupling strength and its theoretical maximum is defined as efficacy. Irrespective of the coordination rule, coupling strength between ipsilateral leg pairs is at least twice that of contralateral leg pairs, being strongest between ipsilateral hind and middle legs and weakest between contralateral middle legs. Efficacy is highest for inhibitory rule 1, reaching 84-95% for ipsilateral and 29-65% for contralateral leg pairs. Efficacy of excitatory rules 2 and 3 ranges between 35-56% for ipsilateral and 8-21% for contralateral leg pairs. The behavioural transition from straight to curve walking is associated with context-dependent changes in coupling strength, increasing in both outer leg pairs and decreasing between inner hind and middle leg. Thus, the coordination rules that are thought to underlie many adaptive properties of the walking system, themselves adapt in a context-dependent manner.
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Dürr V. Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology. 2005;208(12):2253-2267.
Dürr, V. (2005). Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208(12), 2253-2267.
Dürr, V. (2005). Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology 208, 2253-2267.
Dürr, V., 2005. Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208(12), p 2253-2267.
V. Dürr, “Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms”, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 208, 2005, pp. 2253-2267.
Dürr, V.: Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Biology. 208, 2253-2267 (2005).
Dürr, Volker. “Context-dependent changes in strength and efficacy of leg coordination mechanisms”. Journal of Experimental Biology 208.12 (2005): 2253-2267.
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