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Is human muscle spindle afference dependent on perceived size of error in visual tracking?

Journal article
Authors Naoyuki Kakuda
Johan Wessberg
Åke Vallbo
Published in Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale
Volume 114
Issue 2
Pages 246-54
ISSN 0014-4819
Publication year 1997
Published at Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Dept of Physiology
Pages 246-54
Language en
Keywords Adult, Afferent Pathways, physiology, Electromyography, Female, Humans, Male, Metacarpophalangeal Joint, physiology, Models, Neurological, Motor Activity, physiology, Movement, physiology, Muscle, Skeletal, innervation, Radial Nerve, physiology, Time Factors
Subject categories Neurophysiology


Impulses of 16 muscle spindle afferents from finger extensor muscles were recorded from the radial nerve along with electromyographic (EMG) activity and kinematics of joint movement. Twelve units were classified as Ia and 4 as II spindle afferents. Subjects were requested to perform precision movements at a single metacarpophalangeal joint in an indirect visual tracking task. Similar movements were executed under two different conditions, i.e. with high and low error gain. The purpose was to explore whether different precision demands were associated with different spindle firing rates. With high error gain, a small but significantly higher impulse rate was found in pooled data from Ia afferents during lengthening movements but not during shortening movements, nor with II afferents. EMG was also significantly higher with high error gain in recordings with Ia afferents. When the effect of EMG was factored out, using partial correlation analysis, the significant difference in Ia firing rate vanished. The findings suggest that fusimotor drive as well as skeletomotor activity were both marginally higher when the precision demand was higher, whereas no indication of independent fusimotor adjustments was found. These results are discussed with respect to data from behaving animals and the role of fusimotor independence in various limb muscles proposed.

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