Systems Approach to the Study of Muscle Spindles

  • R. E. Poppele
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 7)


This paper presents an outline of a systems analysis of the mammalian muscle spindle receptors. Such an analysis is a systematic and quantitative method of studying the behaviour of a device for which one can define an input and an output. The receptor organ is conceptually partitioned into three compartments: a mechanical filter, transducer and encoder. The contribution of each of these compartments to overall receptor behaviour is examined quantitatively. It is found that the mechanical filter of the intrafusal muscle properties can account for the slower transients and adaptations exhibited by spindles while the more rapid dynamics including the velocity and acceleration responses are probably due to properties of the mechanoelectrical transducer. The encoder is a non-linear oscillator whose operation depends on a time varying membrane leak, a quantity determined by membrane conductance and capacitance. The mean value of the leak is different for primary and secondary endings and results in a different behaviour of the respective encoders.


Muscle Spindle Stretch Receptor Phase Lead Repetitive Firing Membrane Leak 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. Poppele
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of NeurophysiologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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