Motor pattern selection by combinatorial code of interneuronal pathways

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We use a modeling approach to examine ideas derived from physiological network analyses, pertaining to the switch of a motor control network between two opposite control modes. We studied the femur–tibia joint control system of the insect leg, and its switch between resistance reflex in posture control and “active reaction” in walking, both elicited by the same sensory input. The femur–tibia network was modeled by fitting the responses of model neurons to those obtained in animals. The strengths of 16 interneuronal pathways that integrate sensory input were then assigned three different values and varied independently, generating a database of more than 43 million network variants. We demonstrate that the same neural network can produce the two different behaviors, depending on the combinatorial code of interneuronal pathways. That is, a switch between behaviors, such as standing to walking, can be brought about by altering the strengths of selected sensory integration pathways.

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