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Electromyographic and kinematic studies of tail movements during falling in cats.

J. Akatani, N. Wada, M. Tokuriki


When falling from an inverted position, EMG activities of tail muscles (the m. extensor caudae lateralis, m. abductor caudae externus, m. flexor caudae longus) and tail movements were recorded in 7 long-tailed adult cats. After being released from an elevated position, cat rotates the tail in a reverse direction to rotation of other parts of the cat's body then lands on four legs. Rotation of the tail was started by EMG activities of the tail muscles on one side. Both synchronized and alternating groups of discharge occur between its left and right side, while extensor and flexor movements and displacements of its tail appear in the air. After transection of ventral roots from the coccygeal spinal segments innervating tail muscles, cats often fail to land on four legs. These facts suggest that that tail movements control body balance in the air when falling from an inverted position.

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