Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 441–449 | Cite as

Modulation, probably presynaptic in origin, of monosynaptic Ia excitation during human gait

  • M. Faist
  • V. Dietz
  • E. Pierrot-Deseilligny
Research Article


Modulation of presynaptic inhibition of Ia afferents projecting monosynaptically to soleus motoneurones was investigated during human gait. Changes in presynaptic inhibition of Ia afferents were deduced from alterations in the amount of heteronymous soleus H-reflex facilitation evoked by a constant femoral nerve stimulation. It has been shown that this facilitation is mediated through a monosynaptic Ia pathway and that during its first 0.5 ms it is still uncontaminated by any polysynaptic effect and can be used to assess ongoing presynaptic inhibition of Ia terminals to soleus motoneurones. During gait, heteronymous facilitation was reduced with respect to its control value (rest during sitting) and modulated during the step cycle: it reached its maximum at mid-stance and decreased to near zero by the end of stance. At the same time the H-reflex amplitude was to some extent similarly modulated. It is argued that this decrease in heteronymous Ia facilitation and in H-reflex amplitude reflects an increased, ongoing presynaptic inhibition of Ia terminals projecting onto soleus motoneurones, which could be from central and/or peripheral origin. D1 inhibition, i.e. the late and long-lasting inhibition of the soleus H-reflex evoked by a train of stimuli to the common peroneal nerve, was used as another method to assess presynaptic inhibition. This D1 inhibition was decreased during gait, and it is argued that this decrease might reflect an occlusion in presynaptic pathways or increased presynaptic inhibition of pathways mediating the conditioning volley.

Key words

Presynaptic inhibition Ia fibres Spinal reflexes Gait Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Faist
    • 1
  • V. Dietz
    • 2
  • E. Pierrot-Deseilligny
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Neurology and NeurophysiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Swiss Paraplegic CentreUniversity Hospital BalgristZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Rééducation, Hôpital de la SalpétriéreParisFrance

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