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Human Muscle Spindle Sensitivity Reflects the Balance of Activity between Antagonistic Muscles
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB).
2014 (English)In: Journal of Neuroscience, ISSN 0270-6474, E-ISSN 1529-2401, Vol. 34, no 41, 13644-13655 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Muscle spindles are commonly considered as stretch receptors encoding movement, but the functional consequence of their efferent control has remained unclear. The "alpha-gamma coactivation" hypothesis states that activity in a muscle is positively related to the output of its spindle afferents. However, in addition to the above, possible reciprocal inhibition of spindle controllers entails a negative relationship between contractile activity in one muscle and spindle afferent output from its antagonist. By recording spindle afferent responses from alert humans using microneurography, I show that spindle output does reflect antagonistic muscle balance. Specifically, regardless of identical kinematic profiles across active finger movements, stretch of the loaded antagonist muscle (i.e., extensor) was accompanied by increased afferent firing rates from this muscle compared with the baseline case of no constant external load. In contrast, spindle firing rates from the stretching antagonist were lowest when the agonist muscle powering movement (i.e., flexor) acted against an additional resistive load. Stepwise regressions confirmed that instantaneous velocity, extensor, and flexor muscle activity had a significant effect on spindle afferent responses, with flexor activity having a negative effect. Therefore, the results indicate that, as consequence of their efferent control, spindle sensitivity (gain) to muscle stretch reflects the balance of activity between antagonistic muscles rather than only the activity of the spindle-bearing muscle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 34, no 41, 13644-13655 p.
Keyword [en]
afferent, motor control, muscle spindle, proprioception, reflex, sense of agency
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-96611DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2611-14.2014ISI: 000343142100008OAI: diva2:766596
Available from: 2014-11-27 Created: 2014-11-24 Last updated: 2015-04-01Bibliographically approved

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Dimitriou, Michael
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