Extrinsic systems were shown to control the excitability of the neurones which mediate tail-flip escape in the crayfish. Restraint suppresses the escape mediated by giant fibres and some, but not all, categories of non-giant mediated escape; autotomy of claws increases the excitability of non-giant mediated escape without affecting the lateral giant reflex. The effects of restraint on the lateral giant reflex result from inhibition rather than reduced facilitation. The inhibition descends from thoracic and higher levels, and the lateral giant escape command neurone appears to be its primary target. Inhibition may serve to shift the control of escape behaviour from short latency ‘reflex’ systems to more flexible ‘voluntary’ ones which can produce responses at times most opportune for successful escape.

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