Cutaneous Receptors Contribute to Kinesthesia at the Index Finger, Elbow, and Knee

D. F. Collins, K. M. Refshauge, G. Todd, S. C. Gandevia
2005 Journal of Neurophysiology  
The neural mechanisms underlying the sense of joint position and movement remain controversial. While cutaneous receptors are known to contribute to kinesthesia for the fingers, the present experiments test the hypothesis that they contribute at other major joints. Illusory movements were evoked at the interphalangeal (IP) joints of the index finger, the elbow, and the knee by stimulation of populations of cutaneous and muscle spindle receptors, both separately and together. Subjects matched
more » ... ceived movements with voluntary movements of homologous joints on the contralateral side. Cutaneous receptors were activated by stretch of the skin (using 2 intensities of stretch) and vibration activated muscle spindle receptors. Stimuli were designed to activate receptors that discharge during joint flexion. For the index finger, vibration was applied over the extensor tendons on the dorsum of the hand, to evoke illusory metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint flexion, and skin stretch was delivered around the IP joints. The strong skin stretch evoked the illusion of flexion of the proximal IP joint in 6/8 subjects (12 Ϯ 5°, mean Ϯ SE). For the group, strong skin stretch delivered during vibration increased the perceived flexion of the proximal IP joint by eight times with a concomitant decrease in perceived flexion of the MCP joint compared with vibration alone (P Ͻ 0.05). For the elbow, vibration was applied over the distal tendon of triceps brachii and skin stretch over the dorsal forearm. When delivered alone, strong skin stretch evoked illusory elbow flexion in 5/10 subjects (9 Ϯ 4°). Simultaneous strong skin stretch and vibration increased the illusory elbow flexion for the group by 1.5 times compared with vibration (P Ͻ 0.05). For the knee, vibration was applied over the patellar tendon and skin stretch over the thigh. Skin stretch alone evoked illusory knee flexion in 3/10 subjects (8 Ϯ 4°) and when delivered during vibration, perceived knee flexion increased for the group by 1.4 times compared with vibration (P Ͻ 0.05). Hence inputs from cutaneous receptors, muscle receptors, and combined inputs from both receptors likely subserve kinesthesia at joints throughout the body.
doi:10.1152/jn.00191.2005 pmid:15917323 fatcat:y3sykyderjhbhiacsd4f3yfqvy