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Abstract

Interactions between contralateral legs of stick insects during walking were examined in the absence of mechanical coupling between the legs by studying animals walking on a horizontal plane covered with a thin film of silicone oil. Investigations of undisturbed walks showed that contralateral coupling is weaker han ipsilateral coupling. Two types of influence were found, (i) For each pair of front, middle and rear legs, when one leg started a retraction movement, the probability for the contralateral leg to start a protraction was increased, (ii) For front- and hind-leg pairs, it was found that the probability of starting a protraction in one leg was also increased, the farther the other leg was moved backwards during retraction. Whether such influences exist between middle legs could not be determined. Both ‘excitatory’ mechanisms very much resemble those influences which have been found to exist between ipsilateral legs. However, in contrast to ipsilateral legs, the interaction between two contralateral legs was found to act in both directions.

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