Coordination of side-to-side head movements and walking in amphetamine-treated rats: A stereotyped motor pattern as a stable equilibrium in a dynamical system

Neri Kafkafi*, Stavit Levi-Havusha, Ilan Golani, Yoav Benjamini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rats injected with 5.0 mg/kg (+)-amphetamine perform, at one stage of the drug's influence, rhythmic side-to-side head movements while walking. This makes them an interesting preparation for investigating how stereotyped motor patterns emerge from the coordination of periodic movements. We report here such a pattern we have isolated: the left foreleg and the right hindleg land on the ground as the head reaches the peak of its movement to the right, and vice versa (contra-lateral pattern). We show that this pattern can be explained as a stable equilibrium in a simple, nonlinear dynamical model, similar to models developed for tapping with both hands in human subjects. The model also accounts for sequences of behavior that are not in the contra-lateral pattern, explaining them as a flow of the system back towards the stable equilibrium after a disturbance. Motor patterns that constitute the building blocks of unconstrained behavior are often defined as fixed phase relations between movements of the parts of the body. This study applies the paradigm of Dynamic Pattern Generation to free (unconstrained) behavior: motor patterns are defined as stable equilibria in dynamical systems, assembled by mutual influence of concurrent movements. Our findings suggest that this definition is more powerful for the description of free behavior. The amphetamine-treated rat is a useful preparation for investigating this notion in an unconstrained animal whose behavior is still not as complex and variable as that of the normal animal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-495
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Volume74
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1996

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