An Integrated Model of the Mammalian Muscle Spindle

  • E. Otten
  • K. A. Scheepstra
  • M. Hulliger


A large number of experiments on mammalian muscle spindles, typically based on some combination of stimulation of dynamic and/or static gamma efferents with imposed length variations, have illustrated a range of functional properties and characterised muscle spindles as specialised mechanoreceptors (reviewed by Matthews, 1972; Hunt, 1990). A number of theories have been formulated to explain various aspects of experimental observations in terms of likely receptor mechanisms, which span a range from mechanical to ionic processes. Similar concepts have been applied in the analysis of other mechanoreceptors (Teorell, 1971). In most cases some combination of mechanical and ionic processes appears to give the most satisfactory general description of receptor behaviour. It can therefore be expected, that the same should apply for muscle spindles.


Muscle Spindle Slow Decay Sarcomere Length Common Node Hold Phase 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Banks, R. W., Hulliger, M., Scheepstra, K. A. & Otten, E. (1995) Pacemaker competition and the role of preterminal-branch tree architecture: a combined morphological, physiological and modelling study. (this volume).Google Scholar
  2. Boyd, I. A. (1985) Muscle spindles and stretch reflexes. In Scientific Basis of Clinical Neurology. eds. Swash, M. & Kennard, C., pp. 74–97. Churchill Livingstone, London.Google Scholar
  3. Crowe, A. & Matthews, P. B. C. (1964) Further studies of static and dynamic fusimotor fibres. J. Physiol. 174, 109–131.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Eagles, J. P. & Purple, R. L. (1974) Afferent fibers with multiple encoding sites. Brain Res. 77, 187–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hasan, Z. (1983) A model of spindle afferent response to muscle stretch. J. Neurophysiol. 49, 989–1006.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Hulliger, M. & Noth, J. (1979) Static and dynamic fusimotor interaction and the possibility of multiple pace-makers operating in the cat muscle spindle. Brain Res. 173, 21–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hulliger, M., Otten, E., Wang, B. & Tabet, M. S. (1992) On the nature of the γd-induced slow decay of cat spindle la firing following stretch. In Muscle Afferents and Spinal Control of Movement. eds. Jami, L., Pierrot-Deseilligny, E. & Zytnicki, D., pp. 63–69. Pergamon, Oxford.Google Scholar
  8. Hunt, C. C. (1990) Mammalian muscle spindle: peripheral mechanisms. Physiol. Rev. 70, 643–663.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Hunt, C. C. & Wilkinson, R. S. (1980) An analysis of receptor potential and tension of isolated cat muscle spindles in response to sinusoidal stretch. J. Physiol. 302, 241–262.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Matthews, P. B. C. (1972) Mammalian Muscle Receptors and their Central Actions. Arnold, London.Google Scholar
  11. Matthews, P. B. C. (1981) Evolving views on the internal operation and functional role of the muscle spindle. J. Physiol. 320, 1–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Otten, E., Hulliger, M. & Scheepstra, K. A. (1995). A model study on the influence of a slowly activating potassium conductance on repetitive firing patterns of muscle spindle primary endings. J. Theoretical Biol. (in press).Google Scholar
  13. Poppele, R. E. & Quick, D. C. (1981) Stretch-induced contraction of intrafusal muscle in cat muscle spindle. J Neurosci. 1, 1069–1074.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Rudjord, T. (1970) A second order mechanical model of muscle spindle primary endings. Kybernetik 6, 205–213.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schaafsma, A., Otten, E. & van Willigen, J. D. (1991) A muscle spindle model for primary afferent firing based on a simulation of intrafusal mechanical events. J. Neurophysiol. 65, 1297–1312.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Teorell, T. (1971) A biophysical analysis of mechano-electrical transduction. In Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Volume 1, ed. Loewenstein, W. R., pp. 291–339. Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  17. Westbury, D. R. (1985) Evidence for the importance of calcium activated potassium conductance in frog muscle spindle sensory endings. In The Muscle Spindle. eds. Boyd, I. A. & Gladden, M. H., pp 359–363. Macmillan, London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Otten
    • 1
  • K. A. Scheepstra
    • 1
  • M. Hulliger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical PhysiologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Clinical NeurosciencesUniversity of Calgary,CalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations