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Exp Brain Res. 2009 Mar;193(3):351-9. doi: 10.1007/s00221-008-1631-2. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Common input to different regions of biceps brachii long head.

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  • 1Department of Integrative Physiology, Neurophysiology of Movement Laboratory, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.


The purpose of the experiment was to compare the level of synchronization exhibited by pairs of motor units located within and between functionally distinct regions of the biceps brachii muscle. Pairs of single motor units were recorded from seven subjects using separate electrodes located in the lateral and medial aspects of the long head of biceps brachii. Participants were required to exert a combination of flexion and supination torques so that both motor units discharged at approximately 10 pps for >/=200 s and the level of motor unit synchronization could be quantified. When motor unit recordings were sufficiently stable at the completion of this synchrony task, a series of ramp contractions with multiple combinations of flexion and supination torques were performed to characterize the recruitment thresholds of the motor units. Common input strength (CIS) was significantly greater (P < 0.01) for the within-region pairs of motor units (0.28 extra sync. imps/s, n = 26) than for the between-region pairs (0.13 extra sync. imps/s, n = 18), but did not differ significantly for the 12 within-region pairs from the lateral head and 14 from the medial head (0.27 vs. 0.29 extra sync. imps/s; P = 0.83). Recruitment thresholds were measured for 33 motor units, but there was only a weak association between CIS and the respective recruitment patterns for motor unit pairs (n = 9). The present investigation provides evidence of a differential distribution of synaptic input across the biceps brachii motor neuron pool, but this appears to have minimal association with the recruitment patterns for individual motor units.

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