On a slippery surface the forelegs of a decapitated stick insect walk forwards and the hindlegs, backwards. Animals with only forelegs but that are otherwise intact walk forwards, whereas animals with only hindlegs walk mostly backwards. Usually when intact animals start to walk, their hindlegs exert a rearwards thrust on the substrate, but occasionally the starting forces are directed forwards.

A rampwise extension of the femoral chordotonal organ in the fixed foreleg of a walking animal first excites the flexor tibiae muscle (positive feedback). Towards the end of the ramp stimulus the activity of the flexor decreases, and the extensor tibiae motor neurones become strongly active.

All experiments indicated that the inherent direction of movement of the metathorax is rearwards. In intact animals there must be a coordinating pathway from the prothorax to the metathorax that, together with the suboesophageal ganglion, induces the hindlegs to walk forwards.

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