DOES MOTONEURON ADAPTATION CONTRIBUTE TO MUSCLE FATIGUE?

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Abstract

To help reduce the gap between the cellular physiology of motoneurons (MNs) as studied “bottom-up” in animal preparations and the “top-down” study of the firing patterns of human motor units (MUs), this article addresses the question of whether motoneuron adaptation contributes to muscle fatigue. Findings are reviewed on the intracellularly recorded electrophysiology of spinal MNs as studied in vivo and in vitro using animal preparations, and the extracellularly recorded discharge of MUs as studied in conscious humans. The latter “top-down” approach, combined with kinetic measurements, has provided most of what is currently known about the neurobiology of muscle fatigue, including its task and context dependencies. It is argued that although the question addressed is still open, it should now be possible to design new “bottom-up” research paradigms using animal preparations that take advantage of what has been learned with the use of relatively noninvasive quantitative procedures in conscious humans. Muscle Nerve, 2006

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