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Biol Cybern. 1988;59(1):49-54.

Observations on phase-locking within the response of primary muscle spindle afferents to pseudo-random stretch.

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Physiologisches Institut der Freien Universität Berlin, Germany.


In order to uncover encoder properties of primary muscle spindle afferent fibers, time coupling (phase-locking) of action potentials on cyclic muscle stretch was studied by means of pseudo-random noise. In cats Ia action potentials were recorded from dorsal root filaments and the gastrocnemius muscles of one hind leg were stretched. The stimulus time course was a determined sequence of randomly varying muscle length which could be applied repeatedly (sequence duration 0.6 or 20 s). The noise amplitude sigma (standard deviation of displacements) was varied between 5 and 300 micron, the upper cut-off frequency of noise fc was varied between 20 and 100 Hz. The responses to the consecutive pseudo-random noise cycles were displayed as raster diagrams and cycle histograms. Phase-locking characterized the responses at all noise amplitudes outside the near threshold range (sigma greater than 10 micron). The higher sigma and fc, the stronger was the phase-locking of impulses on the stretch. When sigma and fc were selected to achieve high mean stretch velocities of about 500 mm/s, phase-locking was as precise as 0.15 ms, measured as the variability of spike occurrences with respect to stretch. The rasters obtained with low noise amplitudes (less than 40 micron) showed a loose phase-locking and this gave insight into underlying mechanisms: The elicitation of action potentials caused by dynamic stretch can be prevented by a post-spike depression of excitability. This disfacilitation was very effective in counteracting weak stretch components within the random sequence and less effective or even missing when relatively strong stretch components could force the spike elicitation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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