Functionally complex muscles of the cat hindlimb. I. Patterns of activation across sartorius

Exp Brain Res. 1991;85(2):243-56. doi: 10.1007/BF00229404.


The cat sartorius (SA) can be divided functionally into an anterior (SAa), knee extensor portion and a medial (SAm), knee flexor portion; it can be further subdivided anatomically by multiple nerve branches into parallel longitudinal columns that terminate in a distributed insertion at the knee with a continuous range of moment arms. Thus, SA may be controlled by a discrete number of motoneuron task groups reflecting a small number of central command signals or by a continuum of activation patterns associated with a continuum of moment arms. To resolve this question, the activation patterns across the width of the SA were recorded with an electrode array during three kinematically different movements--treadmill locomotion, scratching and paw shaking, in awake, unrestrained cats. Uniformity of activation along the longitudinal axis was also examined because individual muscle fibers do not extend the length of the SA. In addition, the cutaneous reflex responses were recorded throughout all regions of the SA during locomotion. Two fascial surface-patch arrays, each carrying 4-8 pairs of bipolar EMG electrodes, were sutured to the inner surface of the SA, one placed proximally and the other more distally. Each array sampled separate sites across the anterior to medial axis of SA. During locomotion, two basic EMG patterns were observed: the two burst-per-step-cycle pattern typical of SAa and the single burst pattern typical of SAm. There was an abrupt transition in the pattern of activation recorded in the two parts of SA during locomotion, and no continuum in the activation pattern was observed. Stimulation of both sural and saphenous cutaneous nerves during locomotion produced reflex responses that were uniformly distributed throughout SA, in contrast to the regional differences noted during unperturbed walking. Similarly, during scratching and paw shaking all parts of the SA were active simultaneously but with regional differences in EMG amplitude. The abrupt functional border between SAa and SAm coincided with the division of the SA into a knee flexor vs. a knee extensor. In all cases, the quantitative and qualitative differences in SAa and SAm EMGs were uniformly recorded throughout the entire extent of SAa or SAm; i.e., there was no segregation of activity within either SAa or SAm. Furthermore, the time course of EMG from each proximal recording site was nearly identical to the corresponding distal site, indicating no segregation of function along the longitudinal axis of SA. These results indicate that SAa and SAm constitute the smallest functional modules that can be recruited in SA.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Movement
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Reflex