An appropriate invertebrate nervous system, which is relatively small and amenable to study at the level of single identified cells, has been used as a model for the analysis of neuronal mechanisms which control locomotion. 3 main neuronal processes have been investigated: the coding of locomotory movements by afferent signals, the modulation of reflexes during active movements and the coordination of different locomotory rhythms.
An in vitro preparation of the isolated nervous system of the crayfish, which reliably expresses both reflex responses and rhythmical motor outputs has been developed. With this system it has been possible to use intracellular techniques to study the synaptic mechanisms of sensory motor interactions at the level of single neurones.
An important factor in the success of these studies has been the wide use of computational procedures to analyse the neurophysiological signals. Signal averaging procedures have allowed the identification of synaptic interactions, while a suite of customised nerve spike software has allowed the analysis of rhythmical bursts of nerve activity in terms of their temporal parameters and phase relationships.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts