Reflex responses of tibial motoneurones were examined during mechanical stimulation of the femoral chordotonal organ, a joint angle receptor of the locust hindleg. Step displacements of the main ligament of the organ, mimicking 10–15 degree changes in joint angle, produced different patterns of discharge in motoneurones (1) when the leg was resting against a support and (2) when the support was removed to induce active searching movements. Tibial motoneurones showed resistance reflex responses to oppose the apparent joint movement when the leg rested against a support. Resistance reflexes consisted of constant, short latency excitatory responses followed by discharges that varied in intensity (gain) and degree of tonic coupling. These variations were not due to simple summation with other inputs to motoneurones. Responses changed during periods of active searching movements. Tibial flexor motoneurones fired phasically in response to apparent joint movement in any direction. Tibial extensor motoneurones were generally inhibited by chordotonal inputs. These reflex changes are not simple reflex ‘reversals’, but represent more complex changes in reflex mode. Potential functions of each of these reflex modes and the need for plasticity in reflexes of the chordotonal organ are discussed.

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