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Muscle Nerve. 1992 Feb;15(2):138-50.

Fatigue-related changes in motor unit action potentials of adult cats.

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Department of Physiology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721.


The purpose of this study was to quantify the changes in motor-unit action potentials (MUAP) and force during a standard motor-unit fatigue test. MUAP waveforms were characterized by the measurement of amplitude, duration, area, and shape (as reflected in a coefficient of proportionality). Fatigue-resistant motor units exhibited small, but statistically significant, changes in MUAP amplitude and area during the fatigue test, whereas fatigable motor units displayed variable changes in MUAP amplitude, duration, and area. For all motor-unit types, the coefficient of proportionality did not change, and hence the change in MUAP area was proportional to the combined changes in amplitude and duration. The between- and within-train changes in MUAP were also distinct for the fatigue-resistant and fatigable motor units. Although several mechanisms could be responsible for the changes in the MUAP as the fatigue test proceeded, the dissociation of the time courses for MUAP and force indicated that these MUAP changes were not the principal reason for the decline in force under these conditions.

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