The locust jump. I. The motor programme.

W. J. Heitler*, M. Burrows

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


A motor programme is described for defensive kicking in the locust which is also probably the programme for jumping. The method of analysis has been to make intracellular recordings from the somata of identified motornuerones which control the metathoracic tibiae while defensive kicks are made in response to tactile stimuli. Three stages are recognized in the programme. (1) Initial flexion of the tibiae results from the low spike threshold of tibial flexor motorneurones to tactile stimulation of the body. (2) Co-contraction of flexor and extensor muscles followa in which flexor and extensor excitor motoneurones spike at high frequency for 300-600 ms. the tibia flexed while the extensor muscle develops tension isometrically to the level required for a kick or jump. (3) Trigger activity terminates the co-contraction by inhibiting the flexor excitor motorneurones and simultaneously exciting the flexor inhibitors. This causes relaxation of the flexor muscle and allows the tibiae to extend. If the trigger activity does not occur, the jump or kick is aborted, and the tibiae remain flexed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-219
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1977


Dive into the research topics of 'The locust jump. I. The motor programme.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this