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J Physiol. 1972 Oct;226(1):173-90.

Cardiovascular and respiratory responses to changes in central command during isometric exercise at constant muscle tension.


1. Experiments were designed to show whether elements of the command descending from higher centres to exercising muscles provide an input for cardiovascular and respiratory control. Vibration, known to be a powerful stimulus to the primary afferents from muscle spindles, was applied to the biceps tendon of human subjects performing sustained isometric contractions with the biceps or the triceps muscle. When the biceps was contracting this activation of muscle spindle primary afferents in it provided an element of reflex excitation, so that less central command was required to achieve a given tension. When triceps was contracting, the activation of muscle spindle primary afferents in its antagonist, biceps, contributed an element of reflex inhibition, so that more central command than normally was required to achieve a given tension. The cardiovascular and respiratory responses to an isometric effort could thus be investigated at any tension when the central command was normal, decreased, or increased.2. Blood pressure, heart rate, and pulmonary ventilation all increase in an isometric effort. The increase in each is less when the central command is reduced. The increase in each is greater when the central command is increased.3. It is concluded that there is irradiation of cardiovascular and respiratory control centres by the descending central command during voluntary muscular contractions in man.

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