From what has been said concerning the neuromuscular organization of the Asterias ray, it is possible to arrive at certain definite conclusions regarding the nature of the stereotropism of that organ. The righting movements from the start are not haphazard; i.e., they cannot be explained on any hypothesis of "trial and error." The excitation of the sensory cells of the dorsal sheath initiates dorsal flexure of the ray. This movement makes it possible for the tube feet of the tip to touch bottom and start the vigorous action which follows and completes the righting If the "feelers" by chance touch bottom they initiate the reaction de novo.
As to the remaining phases, the stereotropic reaction of the ray is referable to the high degree of surface sensitivity of the tube feet disks and the propagation of excitatory and inhibitory impulses, resulting from stimulation, along appropriate paths to the muscles of the ray. In this respect the tube feet may be regarded as playing a role similar to that of tropistic receptors in general. That is, unequal stimulation of the receptors causes a corresponding inequality of tone or of contraction in the musculature which ultimately results in an equilibrium of orientation to the factor involved.
It is evident that as a mechanism for righting stereotropism differs in one important respect from other tropisms. The latter depend for their operation upon unilateral effects in organisms which are dynamically bilaterally symmetrical. In stereotropism the sensitivity of the organism is not distributed in bilaterally symmetrical fashion. As a rule only the ventral side is stereosensitive; i.e., the sensitivity is unilaterally distributed. There is a tropistic action in such cases because of the fact that when the sensitive surface is only partially stimulated an unequal contraction of the musculature follows and this as a result brings the sensitive surface into such a position that it is all equally stimulated. Equal muscle tone follows and the organism is in equilibrium with its environment.