Investigation on motoneurone input-output properties with increasing voluntary drive in the human triceps surae

Tomomichi Oya (2009). Investigation on motoneurone input-output properties with increasing voluntary drive in the human triceps surae PhD Thesis, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Tomomichi Oya
Thesis Title Investigation on motoneurone input-output properties with increasing voluntary drive in the human triceps surae
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movement Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Andrew G Cresswell
Associate Professor Stephan Riek
Total pages 199
Total colour pages 2
Total black and white pages 197
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary The series of experiments comprising this thesis investigate how neural inputs arising from higher motor centres (e.g., the motor cortex) and the periphery are translated into a variety of activation patterns of alpha motoneurones during the performance of various muscle contraction types. The thesis consists of six chapters, with the first chapter providing an introduction to the research program, and the final chapter giving a summary of the main research findings. Chapter 2 to 5 each represent stand-alone scientific works. The study presented in Chapter 2 examined whether the soleus (SOL) H-reflex is modulated during shortening contractions in a manner that has been observed for isometric contractions. It was revealed that no significant correlation was found between the SOL H-reflex and increasing plantar flexion torque during shortening contractions (ρ = −0.07, P = 0.15), while a strong positive correlation was observed for the isometric conditions (ρ = 0.99, P < 0.01). Furthermore, no modulation in the H-reflexes via paired stimuli in voluntary shortening contractions suggested that the level of homosynaptic post-activation depression (HPAD) did not change in response to the varying levels of activation in voluntary shortening contractions. Therefore, Ia-excitatory input is likely to be reduced during shortening contractions at increasing intensities, possibly due to a centrally regulated increase in presynaptic inhibition. The study described in Chapter 3 investigated corticospinal-evoked responses in triceps surae muscles during voluntary contractions at varying strengths. Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) and cervicomedullary motor-evoked potentials (CMEPs) were elicited in the SOL and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles using magnetic stimulation over the motor cortex and cervicomedullary junction during voluntary plantar flexions with the torque ranging from 0 to 100% of a maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In both SOL and MG, MEP and CMEP amplitudes [normalized to maximal M wave (Mmax)] showed an increase, followed by a plateau, over the greater part of the contraction range with responses increasing from 0.2 to 6% of Mmax for SOL and from 0.3 to 10% of Mmax for MG. It was suggested that increases in the evoked responses from the triceps surae muscle over a greater range of contraction strengths than for upper limb muscles, probably stems from differences in the pattern of motor unit recruitment and rate coding for these muscles, and the strength of the corticospinal input. In Chapter 4, in an attempt to investigate how the recruitment and rate coding of motor unit organisation can affect the responsiveness of gross evoked potentials to artificial excitatory stimuli, a computer simulation was performed based upon a physiologically plausible model of the motoneurone. The simulation revealed that the force level where the evoked response commences to decline corresponds approximately to the upper limit of recruitment of motor units. This observation was consistent no matter whether firing rates for low-threshold units exceed those for high-threshold units. Since the simulated results were consistent with previous observations in both individual (single motor unit) and population (motoneurone pool) terms, the proposed model is physiologically plausible and can be useful to predict the evoked EMG response via artificial stimulation protocols, thereby inferring the underlying neural mechanisms occurring at the motoneurone pool during voluntary movements. The study presented in Chapter 5 determined the recruitment range and discharge behaviours in the SOL motor units, and examined the possible influence of persistent inward currents (PICs) on SOL motor unit recruitment and discharge rates. Forty-two clearly identified motor units from five subjects revealed that soleus motor units are recruited progressively from rest to contraction strengths close to 95% of MVC, with low-threshold motor units discharging action potentials slower at their recruitment and with a lower peak rate than later recruited high-threshold units. This observation is in contrast to the ‘onion skin phenomenon’ often reported for the upper limb muscles. Based on positive correlations of the peak discharge rates, initial rates and recruitment order of the units with the magnitude of the onset-offset hysteresis (i.e., a difference in discharge rate between recruitment and de-recruitment) and not PIC contribution, we conclude that discharge behaviours among motor units appear to be related to a variation in an intrinsic property other than PICs.
Keyword human
motoneurone pool
motor unit
corticospinal tract
plantar flexion
Additional Notes Colour pages are 162 and 167.

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Created: Mon, 22 Feb 2010, 13:52:31 EST by Mr Tomomichi Oya on behalf of Library - Information Access Service