Kinaesthetic signals and muscle contraction

Trends Neurosci. 1992 Feb;15(2):62-5. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(92)90028-7.


Signals generated both peripherally and centrally contribute to the group of sensations termed kinaesthesia. Many experiments report sensations of position and movement under passive relaxed conditions without muscle contraction. However, kinaesthetic acuity is probably of greater functional value when subjects are active rather than passive and, accordingly, movement detection is markedly improved by muscular contraction. One mechanism contributing to this enhancement is likely to involve muscle spindle volleys. When identical microstimulation techniques are applied to skin, joint and muscle spindle endings innervating the hand, some cutaneous afferents and some joint afferents elicit a sensation, but activation of certain other cutaneous afferents and muscle spindle afferents rarely does. Activity in more than one muscle spindle afferent may be required for kinaesthetic sensations, whereas some single cutaneous and joint afferents may have a more 'secure' central projection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*