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J Neurosci. 2001 Mar 15;21(6):2150-8.

Tension distribution to the five digits of the hand by neuromuscular compartments in the macaque flexor digitorum profundus.

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Departments of Neurology and of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The macaque flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) consists of a muscle belly with four neuromuscular regions and a complex insertion tendon that divides to serve all five digits of the hand. To determine the extent to which compartments within FDP act on single versus multiple digits, we stimulated the primary nerve branch innervating each neuromuscular region while recording the tension in all five distal insertion tendons. Stimulation of each primary nerve branch activated a distinct region of the muscle belly, so that each primary nerve branch and the muscle region innervated can be considered a neuromuscular compartment. Although each neuromuscular compartment provided a distinct distribution of tension across the five distal tendons, none acted on only one digital tendon. Most of the distribution of tension to multiple digits could be attributed to passive biomechanical interactions in the complex insertion tendon, although for the larger compartments a wider distribution resulted from the broad insertion of the muscle belly. Nerve ligations excluded contributions of spinal reflexes or distal axon reflexes to the distribution of tension to multiple digits. We conclude that the macaque FDP consists of four neuromuscular compartments, each of which provides a distinct distribution of tension to multiple digits.

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