Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 35–45 | Cite as

Sensitivity of monosynaptic test reflexes to facilitation and inhibition as a function of the test reflex size: a study in man and the cat

  • C. Crone
  • H. Hultborn
  • L. Mazières
  • C. Morin
  • J. Nielsen
  • E. Pierrot-Deseilligny


In parallel experiments on humans and in the cat it was investigated how the sensitivity of monosynaptic test reflexes to facilitation and inhibition varies as a function of the size of the control test reflex itself. In man the monosynaptic reflex (the Hoffmann reflex) was evoked in either the soleus muscle (by stimulation of the tibial nerve) or the quadriceps muscle (by stimulation of the femoral nerve). In the decerebrate cat monosynaptic reflexes were recorded from the nerves to soleus and medial gastrocnemius muscles; they were evoked by stimulation of the proximal ends of the sectioned L7 and S1 dorsal roots. Various excitatory and inhibitory spinal reflex pathways were used for conditioning the test reflexes (e.g. monosynaptic Ia excitation, disynaptic reciprocal inhibition, cutaneous inhibition, recurrent inhibition, presynaptic inhibition of the Ia fibres mediating the test reflex). It was shown that the additional number of motoneurones recruited in a monosynaptic test reflex by a constant excitatory conditioning stimulus was very much dependent on the size of the test reflex itself. This dependency had the same characteristic pattern whatever the conditioning stimulus. With increasing size of the test reflex the number of additionally recruited motoneurones first increased, then reached a peak (or plateau) and finally decreased. A similar relation was also seen with inhibitory conditioning stimuli. The basic physiological factors responsible for these findings are discussed. Finally, the implications for the interpretation of experiments in man with the H-reflex technique are considered.

Key words

Spinal cord Spinal reflexes Monosynaptic reflex Motor control Man Cat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Crone
    • 1
  • H. Hultborn
    • 1
  • L. Mazières
    • 2
  • C. Morin
    • 2
  • J. Nielsen
    • 1
  • E. Pierrot-Deseilligny
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of NeurophysiologyPanum Institute, University of CopenhagenCopenhagen NDenmark
  2. 2.Clinical Neurophysiology, Department of RééducationHôpital de la SalpêtrièreParis Cedex 13France

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