Spinal locomotor circuits are intrinsically capable of driving a variety of behaviors such as stepping, scratching, and swimming. Based on an observed rostrocaudal wave of activity in the motoneuronal firing during locomotor tasks, the traveling-wave hypothesis proposes that spinal interneuronal firing follows a similar rostrocaudal pattern of activation, suggesting the presence of spatially organized interneuronal modules within the spinal motor system. In this study, we examined if the spatial organization of the lumbar interneuronal activity patterns during locomotor activity in the adult mammalian spinal cord was consistent with a traveling-wave organizational scheme. The activity of spinal interneurons within the lumbar intermediate zone was examined during air-stepping in subchronic spinal cats. The preferred phase of interneuronal activity during a step cycle was determined using circular statistics. We found that the preferred phases of lumbar interneurons from both sides of the cord were evenly distributed over the entire step cycle with no indication of functional groupings. However, when units were subcategorized according to spinal hemicords, the preferred phases of units on each side largely fell around the period of extensor muscle activity on each side. In addition, there was no correlation between the preferred phases of units and their rostrocaudal locations along the spinal cord with preferred phases corresponding to both flexion and extension phases of the step cycle found at every rostrocaudal level of the cord. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that interneurons operate as part of a longitudinally distributed network rather than a rostrocaudally organized traveling-wave network
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