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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 May;80(5):1708-1715.

Alteration of human cutaneous afferent discharges as the result of long-lasting vibration.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie humaine, Université de Provence, Marseille, France.


The unitary activities of slowly (15 SAI) and fast-adapting type I (12 FAI) skin mechanoreceptive afferent units innervating the anterior part of the human leg and foot were recorded by using the microneurographic method. The recordings were performed both at rest and on application of cutaneous stimuli of various intensities before and after exposure of the corresponding receptive fields to vibration (0.5 mm peak to peak, 100 pulses/s, 10 min). The results show that 11% of the units tested, which were previously silent, developed a bursting pattern of postvibratory activity, which lasted 12 min on average. This induced resting activity may account for the tingling sensations usually perceived after exposure to vibration. Furthermore, application of vibration to the cutaneous receptive fields impaired the response properties of the corresponding cutaneous fibers much more markedly in the case of the SAI than in the FAI units. More specifically, less than one-half of the FAI fibers tested showed a postvibratory depressed sensitivity to skin stroking applied at various velocities that persisted for only a few minutes, whereas the responses of all the SAI units to suprathreshold maintained skin indentations applied with increasing amplitudes decreased significantly for 20 min. These fairly durable changes in the transductive properties of the mechanoreceptive afferent units probably lead to an impairment of perceptual and sensorimotor processes and consequently may at least partly account for the alterations in sensorimotor performance that have been reported to occur in humans after exposure to vibration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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