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Effect Of Task Failure On Intermuscular Coherence Measures In Synergistic Muscles

Anna Margherita Castronovo, Cristiano De Marchis, Maurizio Schmid, Silvia Conforto, Giacomo Severini

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The term “task failure” describes the point when a person is not able to maintain the level of force required by a task. As task failure approaches, the corticospinal command to the muscles increases to maintain the required level of force in the face of a decreased mechanical efficacy. Nevertheless, most motor tasks require the synergistic recruitment of several muscles. How this recruitment is affected by approaching task failure is still not clear. The increase in the corticospinal drive could be due to an increase in synergistic recruitment or to overlapping commands sent to the muscles individually. Herein, we investigated these possibilities by combining intermuscular coherence and synergy analysis on signals recorded from three muscles of the quadriceps during dynamic leg extension tasks. We employed muscle synergy analysis to investigate changes in the coactivation of the muscles. Three different measures of coherence were used. Pooled coherence was used to estimate the command synchronous to all three muscles, pairwise coherence the command shared across muscle pairs and residual coherence the command peculiar to each couple of muscles. Our analysis highlights an overall decrease in synergistic command at task failure and an intensification of the contribution of the nonsynergistic shared command.