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The Motoneurone and its Muscle Fibres$
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Daniel Kernell

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198526551

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198526551.001.0001

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Motoneurone populations and the gradation of muscle force

Motoneurone populations and the gradation of muscle force

(p.159) Chapter 8 Motoneurone populations and the gradation of muscle force
The Motoneurone and its Muscle Fibres

Daniel Kernell

Oxford University Press

Muscle force may be graded by two mechanisms (often used in parallel): (a) by activating a larger or smaller number of units (recruitment gradation), (b) by changing the spike-frequency for already recruited units (rate gradation). Recruitment gradation typically takes place such that, within a given muscle, weak and slow units are more easily activated than stronger and faster ones (size principle). However, task-related modifications of this pattern are also known. The gain of recruitment gradation will be influenced by changes of the intra-pool distribution of synaptic ‘driving’ currents, and the gain of rate gradation might be altered by synaptic modification of neuronal discharge characteristics. Furthermore, the firing characteristics of motoneurone pools will also be influenced by the presence of the recurrent Renshaw inhibition. The force of a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) may come close to, and for some muscles incidentally attain, the maximum evocable force.

Keywords:   recruitment gradation, size principle, recruitment gain, rate gradation, rate gain, maximum voluntary contraction, maximum evocable force, Renshaw inhibition

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