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Clin Neurophysiol. 2000 Jul;111(7):1165-74.

Task dependence of Ia presynaptic inhibition in human wrist extensor muscles: a single motor unit study.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physiologie et Physiopathologie Neuromusculaire Humaine, CNRS-DPM, 31 chemin Joseph Aiguier, 13402 Marseille 20, Cedex, France.



Task-dependent changes in the Ia presynaptic inhibition generated by flexor group I afferents were investigated in 25 identified motor units (MUs) located in human extensor carpi radialis (ECR) muscles.


Seven subjects had to voluntarily contract their ECR muscles either alone during isometric wrist extension or concurrently with their wrist and finger flexor muscles while clenching their hand around a manipulandum. The MU reflex responses to the radial nerve stimulation (test stimulation) yielded narrow peaks in the post-stimulus time histograms (PSTH). The Ia presynaptic inhibition induced while stimulating the median nerve (conditioning stimulation) 20 and 40 ms before the radial nerve was assessed from the changes in the contents of the first 0.5 ms in the peaks.


With both stimulation intervals, the Ia presynaptic inhibition, as assessed from the first 0.5 ms of the PSTH peaks, was consistently weaker during hand clenching. With both motor tasks, the Ia presynaptic inhibition was strongest at the 20 ms interval, in which it showed a downward gradient, working from slow to fast contracting MUs. With both intervals, the presynaptic inhibition was consistently weaker during hand clenching. The decrease in the Ia presynaptic inhibition observed at the 40 ms conditioning-test interval was less pronounced during wrist extension.


It is suggested that the reason why Ia presynaptic inhibition was weaker during hand clenching may have been that this task involved numerous cutaneous inputs originating from the palm and finger tips. During gripping tasks, these cutaneous inputs may therefore contribute to adjusting the wrist stiffness by relieving the presynaptic inhibition.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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