Electromyography of the opercularis muscle of Rana catesbeiana: an amphibian tonic muscle

J Morphol. 1983 Jan;175(1):17-26. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051750103.


The opercularis muscle of Rana catesbeiana originates on the suprascapular cartilage of the shoulder girdle and inserts on the otic opercular element. It is part of the levator scapulae musculature and lies dorsomedial to the levator scapulae superior and inferior muscles. Bipolar electrode recordings from all three muscles show electrical activity linked to cyclical firing of the posterior intermandibularis muscle, an important ventilatory muscle. The opercularis muscle shows low amplitude, erratic signals when animals are submerged. Upon emergence of the snout region, the opercularis muscle shows rhythmic low amplitude activity at twice the rate of buccal pumping. Lung ventilation is synchronized with this rhythm and at ventilation the opercularis muscle shows higher amplitude activity. Upon submergence, opercularis activity again shows low level activity with no rhythmic pattern. Opercularis muscle activity has a major low frequency component (about 30 Hz) that probably corresponds to activity of tonic muscle fibers. Higher frequency signals (about 200-250 Hz) comparable to those of the levator scapulae muscles are also present and probably represent activity of phasic muscle fibers. Activity of the opercularis muscle is correlated with conditions in which aerial respiration is possible, and this pattern of activity supports an opercularis role in aerial hearing and/or detection of substrate vibrations. As far as we know, this is the first report of electromyographic analysis of a vertebrate tonic muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Rana catesbeiana / physiology*
  • Respiration
  • Scapula