Changes in motor commands, as shown by changes in perceived heaviness, during partial curarization and peripheral anaesthesia in man

J Physiol. 1977 Nov;272(3):673-89. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1977.sp012066.


1. The centrally generated ;effort' or direct voluntary command to motoneurones required to lift a weight was studied using a simple weight-matching task when the muscles lifting a reference weight were weakened. This centrally generated input to motoneurones was increased when the lifting muscles were partially paralysed with curare or decamethonium as judged by the increased perceived heaviness of a reference weight lifted by the weakened muscles.2. If subjects were asked simply to make matching isometric contractions when the lifting muscles were weakened the isometric tension produced by a weakened muscle was over-estimated.3. When subjects matched weights by flexing the distal joint of the thumb the perceived heaviness of a reference weight during a control partial curarization was compared with its perceived heaviness during a similar partial curarization when the thumb was also anaesthetized. At any level of maximal strength during curarization the perceived heaviness (which reflects the motor command to lifting motoneurones) was increased when the thumb was anaesthetized.4. This increased voluntary command to lifting motoneurones may be required because automatic reflex assistance provided by apparent servo action from the long flexor of the thumb is suppressed by anaesthesia of the thumb (Marsden, Merton & Morton, 1971, 1973, 1976a; Dyhre-Poulsen & Djørup, 1976).

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Local*
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Thumb / physiology
  • Tubocurarine / pharmacology*
  • Weight Perception / physiology*


  • Tubocurarine