Biological data questions the support of the self inhibition required for pattern generation in the half center model
Locomotion control in mammals has been hypothesized to be governed by a central pattern generator (CPG) located in the circuitry of the spinal cord. The most common model of the CPG is the half center model, where two pools of neurons generate alternating, oscillatory activity. In this model, the pools reciprocally inhibit each other ensuring alternating activity. There is experimental support for reciprocal inhibition. However another crucial part of the half center model is a self inhibitory mechanism which prevents the neurons of each individual pool from infinite firing. Self-inhibition is hence necessary to obtain alternating activity. But critical parts of the experimental bases for the proposed mechanisms for self-inhibition were obtained in vitro, in preparations of juvenile animals. The commonly used adaptation of spike firing does not appear to be present in adult animals in vivo. We therefore modeled several possible self inhibitory mechanisms for locomotor control. Based on currently published data, previously proposed hypotheses of the self inhibitory mechanism, necessary to support the CPG hypothesis, seems to be put into question by functional evaluation tests or by in vivo data. This opens for alternative explanations of how locomotion activity patterns in the adult mammal could be generated.