Muscle spindle and fusimotor activity in locomotion

Peter Ellaway, Anthony Taylor, Rade Durbaba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mammals may exhibit different forms of locomotion even within a species. A particular form of locomotion (e.g. walk, run, bound) appears to be selected by supraspinal commands, but the precise pattern, i.e. phasing of limbs and muscles, is generated within the spinal cord by so-called central pattern generators. Peripheral sense organs, particularly the muscle spindle, play a crucial role in modulating the central pattern generator output. In turn, the feedback from muscle spindles is itself modulated by static and dynamic fusimotor (gamma) neurons. The activity of muscle spindle afferents and fusimotor neurons during locomotion in the cat is reviewed here. There is evidence for some alpha–gamma co-activation during locomotion involving static gamma motoneurons. However, both static and dynamic gamma motoneurons show patterns of modulation that are distinct from alpha motoneuron activity. It has been proposed that static gamma activity may drive muscle spindle secondary endings to signal the intended movement to the central nervous system. Dynamic gamma motoneuron drive appears to prime muscle spindle primary endings to signal transitions in phase of the locomotor cycle. These findings come largely from reduced animal preparations (decerebrate) and require confirmation in freely moving intact animals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Volume227
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

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