Decoding the Mechanisms of Gait Generation and Gait Transition in Salamander: a Systems Biology Approach
The main goal of the project is to decode the mechanisms of gait generation and gait transition from walking to swimming in the salamander. Two hypotheses concerning the transition are in the focus of the project. First, the transition can be either the result of a gating mechanism interposed between the brainstem (the source of the descending drive) and the spinal central pattern generators for body and limbs which constitute the rhythm generating circuitry for locomotion. Alternatively the transition can be the result of some intrinsic network properties of the local central pattern generators (CPGs) in the spinal cord. Between the two principal gaits (stepping and swimming) two components can be distinguished, the rhythm (i.e. the frequency of the body movements) and the different coordination of the body parts. In this context the first aim of the project has been to develop a working neural network level model of the spinal circuits (CPGs) responsible for the generation of the rhythmic activity necessary for walking and swimming, and then to test the two hypotheses above. The aspect of the intersegmental coordination is currently being explored.
Keywords: Computational Neuroscience, Salamander, Spinal Central Pattern Generatorsback