European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 10, pp 2159–2165 | Cite as

Non-uniform recruitment along human rectus femoris muscle during transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

  • Kohei Watanabe
  • Motoki Kouzaki
  • Ryosuke Ando
  • Hiroshi Akima
  • Toshio Moritani
Original Article



To test the hypothesis that motor units with different axonal excitability levels are localized in specific portions of the rectus femoris (RF) muscle using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.


M-waves were elicited by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and detected from 24 sites along longitudinal line of the muscle. The stimulation was applied to the femoral nerve, and the current level was gradually increased.


The central locus activation, which is calculated from the spatial distribution of M-waves, appeared at the proximal regions at low stimulation level and then moved to the middle site of the muscle with an increase in the stimulation level. The results reveal that groups of motor units activated at different stimulation levels are located in different positions in the proximal–distal muscle direction.


Our results suggest that motor unit properties in proximal and other regions are not uniform within the RF muscle.


Neuromuscular compartment Bi-articular muscles Multi-channel surface electromyogram M-wave 



Rectus femoris



This research was supported in part by JSPS KAKENHI, a Grant-Aid for Research Activity Start-up (No. 24800071) and Young Scientist B (No. 26750309). This work was supported by the Japanese Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI), Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP Project ID 14533567).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kohei Watanabe
    • 1
  • Motoki Kouzaki
    • 2
  • Ryosuke Ando
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hiroshi Akima
    • 3
    • 5
  • Toshio Moritani
    • 6
  1. 1.Laboratory of Neuromuscular Biomechanics, School of International Liberal StudiesChukyo UniversityNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Education and Human DevelopmentNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Japan Society for the Promotion of ScienceTokyoJapan
  5. 5.Research Center of Health, Physical Fitness and SportsNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  6. 6.Laboratory of Applied Physiology, Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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