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J Physiol. 1967 Oct;192(3):773-800.

The relative sensitivity to vibration of muscle receptors of the cat.


1. Longitudinal vibration was applied to the de-efferented soleus muscle of anaesthetized cats while recording the discharge of single afferent fibres from the proprioceptors within the muscle. Conditions were defined under which vibration can be used to excite selectively the primary endings of muscle spindles without exciting the secondary endings of muscle spindles or Golgi tendon organs.2. Frequencies of vibration of 100-500 c/s were used. The maximum amplitude of vibration which the vibrator could produce fell with increasing frequency; it was 250 mu (peak to peak) for 100 c/s and 20 mu for 500 c/s.3. Primary endings of muscle spindles were very sensitive to vibration. Most could be ;driven' to discharge one impulse for each cycle of vibration over the whole of the above range of frequencies, provided the initial tension was moderate (20-200 g wt.). The amplitude of vibration required to produce driving usually varied by less than a factor of two over the whole range of frequencies. The most sensitive endings could be driven by vibrations of below 10 mu amplitude.4. Stimulation of single fusimotor fibres, whether static or dynamic fusimotor fibres, increased the sensitivity of primary endings to vibration. Contraction of the main muscle, produced by stimulating alpha motor fibres, reduced the sensitivity of primary endings even when fusimotor fibres were also being stimulated.5. The secondary endings were very insensitive to longitudinal vibration and with the amplitudes available not one of twenty-five endings could be driven at 150 c/s or above; one ending could be driven at 100 c/s by vibration of 250 mu amplitude. Stimulation of single fusimotor fibres, probably all of which were static fusimotor fibres, made them slightly more sensitive to vibration but none of them approached the sensitivity of the primary endings.6. The Golgi tendon organs were as insensitive as the secondary endings when the muscle was not contracting and none could be driven at any frequency in spite of quite high tensions in the muscle. However, when the muscle was made to contract by stimulating alpha fibres in ventral root filaments the tendon organs became appreciably more sensitive, the degree of sensitization increasing approximately with the strength of the contraction. They never became as sensitive as the primary endings, and with the amplitudes of vibration available none was driven at frequencies of over 250 c/s.7. When the amplitude of vibration was somewhat below that required to produce driving of an ending it still produced some increase in its mean frequency of discharge. However, amplitudes of vibration of 25-50 mu applied to a non-contracting muscle, whether with or without fusimotor stimulation, produced driving of nearly all primary endings without any significant increase in the mean frequency of firing of secondary endings or Golgi tendon organs. Such vibration can therefore be used as a specific stimulus for the primary endings in order to investigate the central effects or repetitive discharge of the Ia afferent fibres from them.8. Experiments on endings in the peroneus longus muscle showed that these behaved similarly to those in soleus.

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