Relationship Between Simulated Common Synaptic Input and Discharge Synchrony in Cat Spinal Motoneurons

Marc D. Binder, Randall K. Powers
2001 Journal of Neurophysiology  
Binder, Marc D. and Randall K. Powers. Relationship between simulated common synaptic input and discharge synchrony in cat spinal motoneurons. J Neurophysiol 86: 2266 -2275, 2001. Synchronized discharge of individual motor units is commonly observed in the muscles of human subjects performing voluntary contractions. The amount of this synchronization is thought to reflect the extent to which motoneurons in the same and related pools share common synaptic input. However, the relationship between
more » ... the proportion of shared synaptic input and the strength of synchronization has never been measured directly. In this study, we simulated common shared synaptic input to cat spinal motoneurons by driving their discharge with noisy, injected current waveforms. Each motoneuron was stimulated with a number of different injected current waveforms, and a given pair of waveforms were either completely different or else shared a variable percentage of common elements. Cross-correlation histograms were then compiled between the discharge of motoneurons stimulated with noise waveforms with variable degrees of similarity. The strength of synchronization increased with the amount of simulated "common" input in a nonlinear fashion. Moreover, even when motoneurons had Ͼ90% of their simulated synaptic inputs in common, only ϳ25-45% of their spikes were synchronized. We used a simple neuron model to explore how variations in neuron properties during repetitive discharge may lead to the low levels of synchronization we observed experimentally. We found that small variations in spike threshold and firing rate during repetitive discharge lead to large decreases in synchrony, particularly when neurons have a high degree of common input. Our results may aid in the interpretation of studies of motor unit synchrony in human hand muscles during voluntary contractions.
doi:10.1152/jn.2001.86.5.2266 pmid:11698517 fatcat:li5iwbfhrbhwtksc2zvlc3mgti