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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2012 Apr;22(2):251-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2011.11.004. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Task-dependent spatial distribution of neural activation pattern in human rectus femoris muscle.

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Laboratory of Applied Physiology, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Compartmentalization of skeletal muscle by multiple motor nerve branches, named as neuromuscular compartment (NMC), has been demonstrated in animals as well as humans. While different functional roles among individual NMCs were reported in the animal studies, no studies have clarified the region-specific functional role within a muscle related with NMCs arrangement in human skeletal muscle. It was reported that the rectus femoris (RF) muscle is innervated by two nerve branches attached at proximal and distal parts of the muscle. The purpose of the present study is to clarify the possible region-specific functional role in the human RF muscle. Multi-channel surface electromyography (SEMG) were recorded from the RF muscle by using 128 electrodes during two different submaximal isometric contractions that the muscle contributes, i.e. isometric knee extension and hip flexion, at 20%, 40%, 60% and 80% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Results indicated that the central locus activation for the amplitude map of SEMG during hip flexion located at more proximal region compared with that during knee extension. Significant higher normalized root mean square (RMS) values were observed at the proximal region during the hip flexion in comparison to those at middle and distal regions at 60% and 80% of MVC (p<0.05). In while, significant higher normalized RMS values were demonstrated at the distal region comparing with that at the proximal region at 80% of MVC (p<0.05). The results of the present study suggest possible region-specific functional role in the human RF muscle.

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