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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 175, Issue 4, pp 584–595 | Cite as

Low-frequency common modulation of soleus motor unit discharge is enhanced during postural control in humans

  • G. Mochizuki
  • J. G. Semmler
  • T. D. Ivanova
  • S. J. GarlandEmail author
Research Article

Abstract

The maintenance of quiet stance requires the activation of muscles bilaterally. The soleus muscles in each leg share a common function in standing; that is, each muscle acts to control antero-posterior (AP) sway on its own side. We sought to determine the extent to which oscillations in motor unit discharge were related in motor unit pairs of the soleus muscles during postural and voluntary isometric tasks, both within and between legs. Subjects stood quietly for 5 min or performed a voluntary isometric plantarflexion contraction in a seated position. During the postural tasks, the excursions of AP sway between legs were highly correlated (ρ = 0.86 ± 0.06). The strength of common modulation of motor unit discharge rates was assessed using time- and frequency-domain analyses. The time-domain common drive analysis revealed that the strongest correlation in motor unit discharge modulation occurred in the postural task with unilateral pairs (ρ = 0.71 ± 0.13) being more strongly correlated than bilateral pairs (ρ = 0.50 ± 0.16). Common modulation of motor unit discharge was lowest for the voluntary tasks, with ρ = 0.38 ± 0.11 and 0.16 ± 0.08 for unilateral and bilateral pairs, respectively. Similarly, the frequency-domain coherence analysis demonstrated an identical ordering effect, with the largest maximum pooled coherence occurring during standing posture in unilateral (0.070 at 1.6 Hz) and bilateral (0.055 at 1.6 Hz) recordings, whereas minimal coherence was observed in the voluntary task in both unilateral and bilateral recordings within the 0–5 Hz range. These results indicate that in the soleus muscle, common modulation of motor unit discharge is greater during postural tasks than during voluntary isometric tasks and can be observed in both bilateral and unilateral motor unit pairs. Differences in the extent of co-modulation of motor unit discharge between tasks may be attributed to either differences in the descending control or differences in the proprioceptive input between postural and isometric tasks.

Keywords

Human Motor unit Posture Coherence Common drive 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Mochizuki
    • 1
  • J. G. Semmler
    • 2
  • T. D. Ivanova
    • 3
  • S. J. Garland
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Stroke RecoverySunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Research Centre for Human Movement Control, School of Molecular and Biomedical ScienceThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.School of Physical Therapy, Rm 1588, Elborn CollegeUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Physiology and PharmacologyThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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