High-frequency steering maneuvers mediated by tactile cues: antennal wall-following in the cockroach.
Cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) use their antennae to detect a wall and to maintain a constant distance from it as they walk or run along it. The faster they run, the closer they position themselves to the wall. They also use their antennae to detect and follow multiple accordion-like projections in the wall. They can make up to 25 body turns s-1 for short periods during rapid running to follow such wall projections. Each turn apparently involves a change in stepping direction. These turns help to avoid collisions with the outward projections, while keeping the body close to the wall. Sensory inputs from the flagellum of the antenna, and not from its base, appear to evoke the turns in response to wall projections. These flagellar inputs appear to report the position along the antenna of its contact with the wall and/or the position of the consequent antennal bend. This flagellar information constitutes a one-dimensional sensory map, with location along the map indicating the distance to the wall.
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