, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 426-432

Effects of percutaneous stimulation on motor unit firing behavior in man

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Motor unit firing behavior in human first dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle was studied during controlled constant force isometric contractions. The threshold at which motor units were recruited and the mean firing rate at 50% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) were evaluated following stimulation of the skin area over the second digit. Stimulation of cutaneous receptors tended to increase the recruitment threshold of most of the motor units recruited under 20% MVC, while high-threshold motor units (those recruited over 30% MVC) generally exhibited a decrease in recruitment threshold. Less dramatic changes in motor unit firing rates were observed, but those motor units recruited over 30% MVC exhibited some increase in firing rate. The relationship between the change in recruitment threshold and change in motor unit firing rate is not rigid and seems to be susceptible to considerable synaptic noise.