Journal article

Sensory feedback plays a significant role in generating walking gait and in gait transition in salamanders: a simulation study

Here, we investigate the role of sensory feedback in gait generation and transition by using a three-dimensional, neuro-musculo-mechanical model of a salamander with realistic physical parameters. Activation of limb and axial muscles were driven by neural output patterns obtained from a central pattern generator (CPG) which is composed of simulated spiking neurons with adaptation. The CPG consists of a body-CPG and four limb-CPGs that are interconnected via synapses both ipsilaterally and contralaterally. We use the model both with and without sensory modulation and four different combinations of ipsilateral and contralateral coupling between the limb-CPGs. We found that the proprioceptive sensory inputs are essential in obtaining a coordinated lateral sequence walking gait (walking). The sensory feedback includes the signals coming from the stretch receptor like intraspinal neurons located in the girdle regions and the limb stretch receptors residing in the hip and scapula regions of the salamander. On the other hand, walking trot gait (trotting) is more under central (CPG) influence compared to that of the peripheral or sensory feedback. We found that the gait transition from walking to trotting can be induced by increased activity of the descending drive coming from the mesencephalic locomotor region and is helped by the sensory inputs at the hip and scapula regions detecting the late stance phase. More neurophysiological experiments are required to identify the precise type of mechanoreceptors in the salamander and the neural mechanisms mediating the sensory modulation.

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