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J Neurophysiol. 1985 Aug;54(2):403-17.

Reflex control of dynamic muscle stiffness in a slow crustacean muscle.

Abstract

The properties of a stretch reflex in the ventral superficial muscle of the hermit crab abdomen were studied in an isolated abdominal preparation to determine how the reflex affects the mechanical properties of the muscle and whether the reflex is controlling length, force, or stiffness. The reflex was elicited by stretch of hypodermal mechanoreceptors in the cuticle and resulted in the activation of excitor motoneurons to both circular and longitudinal layers of the muscle, thus stiffening the abdomen. The medial motoneuron of the longitudinal layer of the right fourth segment was selected for detailed analysis. It was tonically active and responded to stretch with a phasic burst having a latency of 100 ms. Reflex muscle tension began to increase at 130 ms and reached a peak at 300 ms. Reflex-burst frequency increased slightly with stretch amplitude. Peak force was an approximately linear function of stretch amplitude. No tonic component to the reflex was found in the medial motoneuron, in the central motoneuron (the smallest excitor to the muscle), or in the medial motoneuron studied in intact animals. The reflex-burst frequency was a function of stretch velocity, increasing between two and one-half to four times for a 10-fold increase in stretch velocity. Peak force was essentially independent of stretch velocity over this range. The reflex-burst frequency was not a function of the initial length of the muscle on the ascending limb of the length-tension relation. Active peak force (between two and three times passive peak force) was relatively constant over this range. The dynamic active stiffness (the resistance to stretch of the muscle when the nervous system was intact) was separated into two components. One component is that due to the tonic frequency of the motoneurons, the other to the reflex burst. The reflex component makes up a substantial part of the total active stiffness. Dynamic active stiffness is relatively constant under the conditions of these experiments and, when normalized, is similar to that observed in mammalian myotatic reflexes. This constancy, however, cannot be due to negative feedback control of stiffness, as in mammals. It is suggested that constant reflex stiffness arises from the combination of the low-pass filter characteristics of the muscle and the high-pass filter characteristics of the reflex over a restricted range of velocities.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

PMID:
4031994
DOI:
10.1152/jn.1985.54.2.403
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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