An isolated preparation of the crayfish nervous system, comprising both the thoracic and the abdominal ganglia together with their nerve roots, has been used to study the influence of a single leg proprioceptor, the coxo-basal chordotonal organ (CBCO), on the fictive swimmeret beating consistently expressed in this preparation. Both mechanical stimulation of the CBCO and electrical stimulation of its nerve were used.
In preparations not displaying rhythmic activity, electrical or mechanical stimulations evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in about 30 % of the studied motor neurones with a fairly short and regular delay, suggesting an oligosynaptic pathway. Such stimulation could evoke rhythmic activity in swimmeret motor nerves. The evoked swimmeret rhythm often continued for several seconds after the stimulus period.
When the swimmeret rhythm was well established, electrical and mechanical stimuli modified it in a number of ways. Limited mechanical or weak electrical stimuli produced a small increase in swimmeret beat frequency, while more extreme movements of the CBCO or strong electrical stimuli had a disruptive effect on the rhythm.
The effect of low-intensity stimulation on existing swimmeret beating was phase-dependent: it shortened the beat cycle when applied during the powerstroke phase and lengthened it when applied during the retumstroke phase.
Rhythmic mechanical stimulation of CBCO or electrical stimulation of the CBCO nerve entrained the swimmeret rhythm within a limited range in relative or absolute coordination.
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