Context-dependent inhibition of unloaded muscles during the long-latency epoch

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jan 1;113(1):192-202. doi: 10.1152/jn.00339.2014. Epub 2014 Oct 1.


A number of studies have highlighted the sophistication of corrective responses in lengthened muscles during the long-latency epoch. However, in various contexts, unloading can occur, which requires corrective actions from a shortened muscle. Here, we investigate the sophistication of inhibitory responses in shortened muscles due to unloading. Our first experiment quantified the inhibitory responses following an unloading torque that displaced the hand either into or away from a peripheral target. We observed larger long-latency inhibitory responses when perturbed into the peripheral target compared with away from the target. In our second experiment, we characterized the degree of inhibition following unloading with respect to different levels of preperturbation muscle activity. We initially observed that the inhibitory activity during the short-latency epoch scaled with increased levels of preperturbation muscle activity. However, this scaling peaked early in the R2 epoch (∼ 50 ms) but then quickly diminished through the rest of the long-latency epoch. Finally, in experiment 3, we investigated whether inhibitory perturbation responses consider intersegmental dynamics of the limb. We quantified unloading responses for either pure shoulder or pure elbow torques that evoked similar motion at the shoulder but different elbow motion. The long-latency inhibitory response in the shoulder, unlike the short-latency, was greater for the shoulder torque compared with the response following an elbow torque, as previously observed for a loading response. Taken together, these results illustrate that the long-latency unloading response is capable of a similar level of complexity as observed when loads are applied to the limb.

Keywords: feedback; inhibition; long-latency; stretch response; unloading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Robotics
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Torque
  • Young Adult