Different Motor Neuron Spike Patterns Produce Contractions With Very Similar Rises in Graded Slow Muscles
Journal of Neurophysiology
Hooper SL, Guschlbauer C, von Uckermann G, Büschges A. Different motor neuron spike patterns produce contractions with very similar rises in graded slow muscles. . Graded muscles produce small twitches in response to individual motor neuron spikes. During the early part of their contractions, contraction amplitude in many such muscles depends primarily on the number of spikes the muscle has received, not the frequency or pattern with which they were delivered. Stick insect (Carausius morosus)
... arausius morosus) extensor muscles are graded and thus would likely show spike-number dependency early in their contractions. Tonic stimulations of the extensor motor nerve showed that the response of the muscles differed from the simplest form of spikenumber dependency. However, these differences actually increased the spike-number range over which spike-number dependency was present. When the motor nerve was stimulated with patterns mimicking the motor neuron activity present during walking, amplitude during contraction rises also depended much more on spike number than on spike frequency. A consequence of spike-number dependency is that brief changes in spike frequency do not alter contraction slope and we show here that extensor motor neuron bursts with different spike patterns give rise to contractions with very similar contraction rises. We also examined in detail the early portions of a large number of extensor motor neuron bursts recorded during single-leg walking and show that these portions of the bursts do not appear to have any common spike pattern. Although alternative explanations are possible, the simplest interpretation of these data is that extensor motor neuron firing during leg swing is not tightly controlled.