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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Jun;112(11):1897-905. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01372.2011. Epub 2012 Mar 22.

Discharge properties of motor units during steady isometric contractions performed with the dorsiflexor muscles.

Author information

1
Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA. mjesunat@asu.edu

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to record the discharge characteristics of tibialis anterior motor units over a range of target forces and to import these data, along with previously reported observations, into a computational model to compare experimental and simulated measures of torque variability during isometric contractions with the dorsiflexor muscles. The discharge characteristics of 44 motor units were quantified during brief isometric contractions at torques that ranged from recruitment threshold to an average of 22 ± 14.4% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque above recruitment threshold. The minimal [range: 5.8-19.8 pulses per second (pps)] and peak (range: 8.6-37.5 pps) discharge rates of motor units were positively related to the recruitment threshold torque (R(2) ≥ 0.266; P < 0.001). The coefficient of variation for interspike interval at recruitment was positively associated with recruitment threshold torque (R(2) = 0.443; P < 0.001) and either decreased exponentially or remained constant as target torque increased above recruitment threshold torque. The variability in the simulated torque did not differ from the experimental values once the recruitment range was set to ∼85% MVC torque, and the association between motor twitch contraction times and peak twitch torque was defined as a weak linear association (R(2) = 0.096; P < 0.001). These results indicate that the steadiness of isometric contractions performed with the dorsiflexor muscle depended more on the distributions of mechanical properties than discharge properties across the population of motor units in the tibialis anterior.

PMID:
22442023
PMCID:
PMC3379156
DOI:
10.1152/japplphysiol.01372.2011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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