Control of Locomotion in Hexapods

Roy E. Ritzmann and Sasha N. Zill

in The Oxford Handbook of Invertebrate Neurobiology

Published in print April 2019 | ISBN: 9780190456757
Published online February 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190456764 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Control of Locomotion in Hexapods

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  • Invertebrate Neurobiology
  • Sensory and Motor Systems


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This article discusses legged locomotion in insects. It describes the basic patterns of coordinated movement both within each leg and among the various legs. The nervous system controls these actions through groups of joint pattern generators coupled through interneurons and interjoint reflexes in a range of insect species. These local control systems within the thoracic ganglia rely on leg proprioceptors that monitor joint movement and cuticular strain interacting with central pattern generation interneurons. The local control systems can change quantitatively and qualitatively as needed to generate turns or more forceful movements. In dealing with substantial obstacles or changes in navigational movements, more profound changes are required. These rely on sensory information processed in the brain that projects to the multimodal sensorimotor neuropils collectively referred to as the central complex. The central complex affects descending commands that alter local control circuits to accomplish appropriate redirected movements.

Keywords: tripod gait; proprioception; campaniform sensill; central pattern generator; reflex reversal; central complex

Article.  10769 words. 

Subjects: Invertebrate Neurobiology ; Sensory and Motor Systems

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