The coxal leg-stump of a stick insect was rotated about the coxa-thorax joint, by means of a pen-motor, while the animal walked on a self-propelled double treadwheel. Motor activity in the retractor muscles of the legs was recorded for standing and walking animals with the stump of either the middle or hind leg moved forward and backward in a trajectory similar to that used in a walking step.
In a standing animal the movement of either leg evokes a weak resistance reflex. If the animal walks with the middle leg-stump held still, then short and weak motor bursts are generated with the periodicity of the walking legs. Front and hind legs alternate in a manner typical of the middle leg amputee and the retractor muscle of the amputated leg is most active during the power stroke of the leg behind.
When a middle leg-stump is moved at a different frequency from that of the walking legs, the motor output to the retractor is strongly modulated and depends on the relative timing of the stump and the walking legs.
Rearward movement of the hind leg-stump, during walking, is always accompanied by strong motor output in the retractor muscle. In addition, forward movement in this leg-stump produces a resistance reflex similar to that produced in the standing animal.