Task-related changes in sensorimotor integration influence the common synaptic input to motor neurones

C. M. Laine, Ş U. Yavuz, D. Farina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The purpose of this investigation was to understand how visual information, when used to guide muscle activity, influences the frequency content of the neural drive to muscles and the gain of afferent feedback. Methods: Subjects maintained static, isometric contractions of the tibialis anterior muscle by matching a visual display of their ankle dorsiflexion force to a target set at 10% of their maximum voluntary contraction level. Two visual feedback conditions were studied. The first was a high-sensitivity feedback, in which small changes in force were of large on-screen visual magnitude. The second was a low-sensitivity feedback, in which the on-screen scaling of feedback was reduced by a factor of 10, making small force fluctuations difficult to perceive. Force tremor and Hoffmann reflex (H-reflex) amplitudes were compared between the two conditions, as well as coherence among single motor unit spike trains derived from high-density EMG recordings. Results: The high-sensitivity feedback condition was associated with lower error, larger force tremor (4-12 Hz) and larger H-reflex amplitudes relative to the low-sensitivity feedback condition. In addition, the use of high-sensitivity feedback was associated with lower 1-5 Hz coherence among pairs of motor units, but larger coherence at high frequencies (6-12, approx. 20, >30 Hz). Conclusion: Alteration of visual feedback influences nearly the entire frequency spectrum of common input to motor neurones, as well the gain of afferent feedback. We speculate that task-related modulation of afferent feedback could be the origin of many of the observed changes in the neural drive to muscles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalActa physiologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Afferent feedback
  • Coherence
  • Hoffmann reflex
  • Motor units


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