Transients, Stability and Oscillations

  • David Aitchison Smith


This chapter goes beyond the steady-state behaviour of fast skeletal muscle to look at time-dependent behaviour in all forms associated with full Ca2+-activation. A step perturbation in length, ligand concentration or temperature generates transient behaviour in tension and other observables before reaching a new steady-state, and these transient responses pose a bigger challenge to theories and models. After rapid recovery, the tension response to a length step shows an anti-recovery phase, which is mirrored by a frequency domain of negative viscosity in the response to a sinusoidal length change. This anti-phase mode is responsible for driving spontaneous oscillations when the muscle is coupled to a suitable inertial load, as with the wing muscles of asynchronous flying insects, and a comprehensive non-linear theory is developed. Another instability arises at sarcomere lengths on the descending limb; the apparent negative stiffness gives rise to tension creep, and various theories are discussed. Finally, the lateral stability of the filament lattice arises from a balance of Coulombic and van der Waals forces, and the decrease in spacing with sarcomere length can be explained in this way.


Step change AC stiffness Insect flight muscle Creep Lattice spacing 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • David Aitchison Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and MicrobiologyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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