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Comparison of fluctuations of motor unit recruitment and de-recruitment thresholds in man


Recruitment and de-recruitment thresholds of motor units in the wrist extensor muscles can undergo important random fluctuations, even when they are measured during stereotyped contractions and relaxations. These fluctuations were statistically quantified and compared. The statistical analysis indicated that recruitment and de-recruitment thresholds display the same kind of fluctuations, and that the successive measurements are randomly distributed following a quasi-normal law. We suggest that the notion of force threshold for motor unit recruitment and de-recruitment might be oversimplified and that a motor unit seems to have a range of force in which it can be recruited or de-recruited. Comparison of the mean values of recruitment and de-recruitment thresholds of the motor units in the extensor carpi radialis muscles showed that de-recruitment thresholds were significantly lower than recruitment thresholds. This difference in the thresholds, together with the difference in the motor unit discharge frequency during a contraction and a relaxation, suggests a differential control of the motoneurone activity during contractions and relaxations.

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Romaiguère, P., Vedel, J. & Pagni, S. Comparison of fluctuations of motor unit recruitment and de-recruitment thresholds in man. Exp Brain Res 95, 517–522 (1993).

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Key words

  • Motor units
  • Recruitment threshold
  • De-recruitment threshold
  • Man