Motor unit discharge rates of the anconeus muscle during high-velocity elbow extensions

Exp Brain Res. 2011 Jan;208(1):103-13. doi: 10.1007/s00221-010-2463-4. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Motor unit recruitment and motor unit discharge rate (MUDR) have been widely studied in isometric conditions but minimally during velocity-dependent contractions. For isometric contractions, surface electromyography (EMG) activity of the elbow extensors plateaus at near maximal torques (Le Bozec et al. 1980; Le Bozec and Maton 1982). One study (Maton and Bouisset 1975) recorded single motor unit (MU) activity at maximal velocities; however, only the rate of the first interspike interval (ISI) was reported and likely was not representative of the average MUDR of the MU train. The purpose was to calculate average MUDRs of the anconeus during loaded velocity-dependent contractions from zero velocity (isometric) up to maximal velocity (V(max25)) through a large range of motion. A Biodex dynamometer was used to record elbow extension torque, position, and velocity. Single MU potentials were collected from the anconeus with intramuscular EMG, and surface EMG was sampled from the lateral head of the triceps brachii during maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVCs) and velocity-dependent contractions loaded at 25% MVC over 120° range of motion at five target velocities (0, 25, 50, 75, 100%V(max25)). Elbow extension velocities ranged from 93 to 494°/s and average MUDR ranged from 11.8 Hz at 25%MVC to 39.0 Hz at 100%V(max25.) Overall average MUDRs increased as a function of velocity, although the root mean square of triceps brachii surface EMG plateaued at 50%V(max25). Piecewise regression analysis revealed two distinct linear ranges each described by a unique equation, suggesting that MUDRs of the anconeus enter a secondary range of firing, characterized by a steeper slope as velocity approaches maximum.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Elbow / innervation
  • Elbow / physiology*
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Torque
  • Young Adult