Post-activation depression in various group I spinal pathways in humans

Exp Brain Res. 2005 Oct;166(2):248-62. doi: 10.1007/s00221-005-2360-4. Epub 2005 Aug 3.


This investigation was designed to study the effects of post-activation depression in different spinal pathways fed by group I afferents available to investigation in human subjects. It was precipitated by a recent investigation in the cat showing that-contrary to the general assumption-post-activation depression is not a widespread phenomenon in the spinal cord. In 24 healthy subjects comparison was made between the effects of low and high-test stimulus rates on the monosynaptic Ia excitation, known to be subject to post-activation depression, and on oligosynaptic pathways fed by group I afferents. Both the amplitude of monosynaptic H reflexes and the amount of heteronymous monosynaptic Ia facilitation were significantly smaller at high than at low-test stimulus rates (1-2 s compared with 6-8 s between two consecutive stimuli). So was the amount of reciprocal Ia inhibition of tibialis anterior motoneurones. In contrast, the amount of other non-monosynaptic group I effects directed to the same motor nuclei (peroneal-induced excitation of quadriceps motoneurones, disynaptic non-reciprocal group I inhibition of flexor carpi radialis motoneurones, and D1 inhibition of flexor carpi radialis and soleus H reflexes) were enhanced at high stimulus rates. Results in humans confirm that post-activation depression depends on the type of group I afferents, and/or on the target neurones. The functional significance of the discrepancy between post-activation depression in pure Ia pathways and in other group I pathways is discussed with regard to the fusimotor-driven servo-assistance from Ia afferent discharges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle / innervation
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • H-Reflex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / innervation
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*