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Dev Med Child Neurol. 1999 Jul;41(7):465-72.

Does abnormal branching of inputs to motor neurones explain abnormal muscle cocontraction in cerebral palsy?

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Department of Physiology, University College of London, UK.


The common synaptic drive shared between two groups of motor neurones synchronizes the timing of discharges between the motor-neurone groups. Recordings were made of motor-unit discharges during cocontraction of ipsilateral pairs of thumb muscles in eight subjects with cerebral palsy (CP) aged 4 to 13 years and eight neurologically healthy subjects aged 4 to 12 years, and in pairs of lower-limb muscles in 21 subjects with CP and 21 control subjects, both aged 3 to 15 years. Common synaptic drive, likely to be derived at least partly from activity in branched corticospinal-tract neurones, produced motor-unit synchronization between pairs of thumb muscles in control subjects but was absent in all subjects with CP. Motor unit synchronization was not found between lower-limb antagonist muscles that cocontract abnormally in CP, nor was synchronization present in more widely separated muscle pairs. Therefore, abnormal patterns of muscle activation and more widespread muscle reflex responses do not result from an abnormal distribution of common synaptic drive in CP.

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