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Threshold-spacing In Motoneurone Pools Of Rat And Cat: Possible Relevance For Manner Of Force Gradation
Published 2004 · Chemistry, Medicine
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In the context of an analysis concerning factors of importance for the relative contributions of recruitment and rate gradation of muscle force, the distribution of electrical excitability was analyzed for medial gastrocnemius (MG) motoneurones of rat and cat. The experimental data came from previously collected intracellular measurements in animals anaesthetized with pentobarbitone. Electrical excitability was measured as the threshold (nanoamperes) for single spike generation (rheobase) in rat and for maintained repetitive firing (rhythmic threshold) in cat. Furthermore, the data included measurements of axonal conduction velocity and of contractile properties of the muscle units innervated by the studied motoneurones. The units were categorized into types S (slow-twitch, fatigue-resistant), FR (fast-twitch, fatigue-resistant) and FF (fast-twitch, fatiguable) on the basis of the combined criteria of twitch-speed and sensitivity to fatigue. We confirmed that, in spite of the presence of normal-looking symmetrical distributions of axonal conduction velocity, there was a positive skew in the distribution of electrical excitability (relatively high numbers of cells with low thresholds, few with high ones). Within each unit category (S, FR, FF), we ranked the motoneurones according to their relative electrical excitability and calculated the threshold difference between consecutive cells (“threshold spacing”). In accordance with the skewed distribution of electrical excitability, we found that the mean threshold spacing was ranked in the same way as the mean thresholds, i.e. S