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Voluntary Control of Muscle Activity

  • Aubrey J. Yates

Abstract

It is not generally appreciated by the nonphysiologist that the body contains an extraordinarily large number of muscles, large and small, short and long, fat and thin, rarely acting in isolation and often sitting, as it were, cheek by jowl. For example, in performing the simple act of opening the mouth, at least nine different groups of muscles must be innervated in an appropriate pattem of relative tension (the zygomaticus major and minor, the levator labii superioris and superioris alaeque nasi, the levator anguli oris, the risorius, the depressor anguli oris and labii inferioris, and the mentalis); and, of course, a diffeient pattern is required for closing the mouth. Similar complexities apply in the apparently equally simple action of flexing or extending the fingers, severally or jointly, while in the calf various muscles are tightly packed but with each performing a special function. It is partly for this reason that some physiologists have considered that surface electromyography is inadequate as a technique for detecting specific muscle activity as compared with the use of implanted needle electrodes. Although this viewpoint has been expressed quite strongly by some physiologists and while the point may be conceded in principle, there is empirical evidence that results obtained with the use of the two techniques, at least where absolute precision is not vital, are quite comparable (Bouisset & Maton, 1972). Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that recordings made with surface electrodes will usually reflect the activity of a group of muscles rather than a single muscle (to a greater or lesser degree depending on the site from which the recording is made) and that uncontrolled action at a distance from the muscle site may momentarily activate a muscle which is otherwise in a resting state (for example, a low level of frontalis muscle activity may be disrupted by swallowing or eye movements). To some extent, the unwanted activity may be eliminated byappropriate filtering at the amplification stage but careful instructional control will usually also be necessary.

Keywords

Muscle Activity Visual Feedback Voluntary Control Auditory Feedback Relaxation Training 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aubrey J. Yates
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaNedlandsWestern Australia

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