Fusimotor drive may adjust muscle spindle feedback to task requirements in humans

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Feb;101(2):633-40. doi: 10.1152/jn.91041.2008. Epub 2008 Nov 26.


The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the fusimotor control of muscle spindle sensitivity may depend on the movement parameter the task is focused on, either the velocity or the final position reached. The unitary activities of 18 muscle spindle afferents were recorded by microneurography at the common peroneal nerve. We compared in two situations the responses of muscle spindle afferents to ankle movements imposed while the subject was instructed not to pay attention to or to pay attention to the movement, both in the absence of visual cues. In the two situations, three ramp-and-hold movements were imposed in random order. In one situation, the three movements differed by their velocity and in the other by the final position reached. The task consisted in ranking the three movements according to the parameter under consideration (for example, slow, fast, and medium). The results showed that paying attention to movement velocity gave rise to a significant increase in the dynamic and static responses of muscle afferents. In contrast, focusing attention on the final position reached made the muscle spindle feedback better discriminate the different positions and depressed its capacity to discriminate movement velocities. Changes are interpreted as reflecting dynamic and static gamma activation, respectively. The present results support the view that the fusimotor drive depends on the parameter the task is focused on, so that the muscle afferent feedback is adjusted to the task requirements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Spindles / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult