Fictive Crawling in Manduca Sexta: the role of central pattern generators in the neural control of soft-bodied locomotion.
Slate, Daniel J.
- Central pattern generators are well characterized in a variety of species and are thought to control vital biological functions. These pattern generators function effectively with little to no sensory feedback. Fictive behaviors provide a method of examining the existence of central pattern generators. In Manduca sexta, the larvae's lack of a rigid skeleton poses challenges to the control of the c... read moreaterpillar's locomotion. Previous research has suggested that central pattern generators play a role in the caterpillar's locomotion. This study examines fictive behaviors induced in an isolated central nerve cord from the caterpillar to answer the following questions: (1) What role, if any does sensory feedback play in coordinating the motor output of the central nervous system, and (2) what role do central pattern generators play in motor patterns generated by the caterpillar's central nervous system. It was found that though some well coordinated rhythms are generated by an isolated nerve cord, these patterns are far more diverse and variable than previously thought. This diversity and variability of motor patterns suggests that, while central pattern generating neural circuits may exist in the caterpillar CNS, sensory feedback plays a critical role in coordinating these patterns to produce the behaviors observed in the intact animal. These findings ultimately have implications on the design of an intelligent control system for soft-bodied robotics.read less