Fusimotor reflex profiles of individual triceps surae primary muscle spindle afferents assessed with multi-afferent recording technique

J Physiol (Paris). 1991;85(1):6-19.


The experiments were performed on 21 cats anaesthetized with alpha-chloralose. The aim of the study was to investigate sets of simultaneously recorded spindle afferents (2-4 in each set) from the triceps surae muscle (GS) with respect to the pattern of fusimotor reflex effects evoked by different types of ipsi- and contralateral reflex stimulation. The afferents' responses to sinusoidal stretching of the GS muscle were determined and the fusimotor reflex effects were assessed by comparing the afferent responses (i.e. the mean rate of firing and the depth of modulation) elicited during reflex stimulation with those evoked in absence of any reflex stimulus. Natural of electrical activations of ipsi- and contralateral muscle, skin and joint receptor afferents were used as reflex stimuli. The spindle afferents were influenced by several modalities and from wide areas, with a majority responding to both ipsi- and contralateral stimuli. A particular reflex stimulus often caused different effects on different afferents, and the various reflex stimuli seldom gave similar effects on a particular afferent. Multivariate analysis revealed that the variation in response profiles among simultaneously recorded afferents were as great as between afferents recorded on different occasions. This suggests that the individualized response prifiles, observed in earlier investigations, represent a very diversified reflex control of the spindle primary afferents, and are not a reflection of changes in the setting of the spinal interneuronal network, occurring during the time interval between the recordings of different units. Also, there was no relation between the conduction velocity of the afferents and the reflex profiles of the afferents, but non-linear relations were found between effects elicited by different types of stimuli. Indications were also found that it may be possible to separate the population of GS muscle spindles into subgroups, according to the fusimotor effects exhibited by activation of various categories of ipsi- and contralateral receptor afferents. It is concluded that one possible way of making the very complex reflex system controlling the muscle spindles intelligible may be a combination of multiple simultaneous recordings of spindle afferents and multivariate analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Motor Neurons, Gamma / physiology*
  • Muscle Spindles / physiology*
  • Reflex, Stretch / physiology*