Adaptive reconfiguration of a reflex circuit during different motor programmes in the locust

T. Jellema*, W. J. Heitler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The cuticle strain which develops in the hindleg tibiae when a locust prepares to kick, or when the tibia thrusts against an obstacle, is detected by two campaniform sensilla, which reflexly excite the fast extensor tibiae motoneuron, some of the flexor tibiae motoneurons and nonspiking interneurons. The reflex excitation is adaptive for the extensor motoneuron during both co-activation and thrusting, but is only adaptive for the flexor motoneurons during co-activation, and is maladaptive during thrusting. We show that the femoral chordotonal organ, which monitors tibial position, controls the efficacy of the strain feedback. The campaniform sensilla-induced depolarization in the extensor motoneuron is about twice as large when the tendon is in mid position (reflecting a tibial-femoral angle of 90°) than when fully stretched (reflecting tibial flexion), while in the flexors the reverse is true. The amplitudes of excitatory postsynaptic potentials evoked by single campaniform sensilla spikes, are, however, not affected. Our data suggests that the chordotonal organ modulates the gain of the strain feedback onto the motoneurons by exciting interneuronal circuits whose output sums with the former. Thrusting typically occurs with the tibia partially extended, therefore the actions of the chordotonal organ support the production of a maximal thrusting force.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-669
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology - A Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


  • Campaniform sensilla
  • Grasshopper
  • Kicking
  • Proprioceptor
  • Schistocerca gregaria


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