The synaptic potentials generated in neuromodulatory octopaminergic dorsal unpaired median (DUM) neurones by afferents excited by twitch contractions of a dorso-ventral flight muscle were investigated in the locust. Responses to stimulation of the metathoracic wing elevator muscle 113 were obtained in locusts in which all sensory feedback from the thorax had been removed, except for feedback from the thoracic chordotonal organs, the axons of which enter via the purely sensory nerve 2. Afferents in nerve 2C, which originates from two chordotonal organs, responded reliably to twitch contractions of this flight muscle. Octopaminergic neurones innervating leg muscles (DUM5 neurones) received depolarising inputs and often spiked following stimulation of the muscle. In contrast, those innervating the wing muscles themselves (DUM3 and DUM3,4 neurones) received inhibitory inputs. The responses of DUM3,4,5 neurones, which project mainly to leg muscles, were more complex: most were excited by twitch contractions of M113 but some were inhibited. DUMDL, which innervates the dorsal longitudinal indirect flight muscles, showed no clear response. Direct stimulation of nerve 2C evoked depolarising inputs and spikes in DUM5 neurones and hyperpolarising inputs in DUM3 and DUM3,4 neurones. Our data suggest that sensory feedback from thoracic chordotonal organs, which are known to be activated rhythmically during flight, contributes to the differential activation of efferent DUM neurones observed during flight.

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