Quantitative Studies on Mammalian Muscle Spindles and their Sensory Innervation

  • Robert Banks
  • Michael Stacey


It is not surprising, in view of the various functional roles played by skeletal muscles, that each muscle should possess a characteristic proprioceptive innervation. Muscle spindles are relatively easy to count and have been the main subject of quantitative studies. In drawing comparisons between different muscles, most authors have used the number of spindles per gram of adult muscle, or spindle density, as a measure of relative abundance. In both man and cat, where sufficient muscles have been examined, smaller muscles have been found usually to have higher spindle densities than larger muscles (reviewed by Hosokawa, 1961; Voss, 1971; and Barker, 1974). This has frequently led to the suggestion that the higher densities are functionally appropriate to small muscles involved in fine postural adjustment or manipulation, yet it has never been demonstrated that it is justifiable to relate spindle number linearly to muscle mass as a simple density.


Muscle Spindle Muscle Weight Small Muscle Sensory Innervation Muscle Receptor 
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. Arendt, K.-W., and Asmussen, G., 1974, Die Anzahl und die Verteilung von Muskelspindeln im M. triceps surae der Ratte, Anat. Anz., 136, 207–216.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakker, G.J., and Richmond, F.J.R., 1981, Two types of muscle spindles in cat neck muscles: A histochemical study of intrafusal fiber composition, J. Neurophysiol., 45, 973–986.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bakker, G.J., and Richmond, F.J.R., 1982, Muscle spindle complexes in muscles around upper cervical vertebrae in the cat, J. Neurophvsiol., 48, 62–74.Google Scholar
  4. Banks, R.W., Barker, D., and Stacey, M.J., 1982, Form and distribution of sensory terminals in cat hindlimb muscle spindles, Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc., B299: 329–364.Google Scholar
  5. Barker, D., 1974, The morphology of muscle receptors, in: “Handbook of Sensory Physiology, III/2” Hunt, C.C., ed., Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  6. Barker, D., and Banks, R.W., 1986, The muscle spindle, in: “Myology”, Engel, A.G., and Banker, B.Q., eds., McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Chin, N.K., Cope, M., and Pang, M., 1962, Number and distribution of spindle capsules in seven hindlimb muscles of the cat, in: “Symposium on Muscle Receptors”, Barker, D., ed., Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  8. Hosokawa, H., 1961, Proprioceptive innervation of striated muscles in the territory of cranial nerves, Tex. Rep. Biol. Med., 19, 405–464.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Kucera, J., and Walro, J.M., 1987, Heterogeneity of spindle units in the cat tenuissimus muscle, Am. J. Anat., 178, 269–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Matthews, P.B.C., 1972, “Mammalian Muscle Receptors and their Central Actions”, Arnold, London.Google Scholar
  11. Milburn, A., 1984, Stages in the development of cat muscle spindles, J. Embryol. Exp. Morph., 82, 177–216.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Richmond, F.J.R., and Abrahams, V.C., 1975, Morphology and distribution of muscle spindles in dorsal muscles of the cat neck, J. Neurophysiol., 38, 1322–1339.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Richmond, F.J.R., Bakker, G.J., Bakker, D.A., and Stacey, M.J., 1986, The innervation of tandem muscle spindles in the cat neck, J. Comp. Neurol., 245, 483–497.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Richmond, F.J.R., and Stuart, D.G., 1985, Distribution of sensory receptors in the flexor carpi radialis muscle of the cat, J. Morph., 183, 1–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schulze, M.L., 1955, Die absolute und relative Zahl der Muskelspindeln in den kurzen Daumenmuskeln des Menschen, Anat. Anz., 102, 290–291.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. von Hoyer, E., 1963, Untersuchungen über Anzahl, Länge und Verteilung der Muskelspindeln in der Unterschenkelmuskulatur, Anat. Anz., 113: 36–44.Google Scholar
  17. Voss, H., 1971, Tabelle der absoluten und relativen Muskelspindelzahlen der menschlichen Skelettmuskulatur, Anat. Anz. 129: 562–572.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Banks
    • 1
  • Michael Stacey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations