Rapid ankle extension during paw shakes: selective recruitment of fast ankle extensors

J Neurophysiol. 1980 Mar;43(3):612-20. doi: 10.1152/jn.1980.43.3.612.


1. Electromyographic (EMG) signals from slow (soleus) and fast (lateral gastrocnemius) ankle extensors of six cats were recorded during rapid and alternate flexion-extension of the hindlimb elicited by placing the paw in water or by sticking tape to the plantar pads. High-speed 16-mm film, taken at 100 or 200 frames/s, was analyzed to determine the knee and ankle joint kinematics. 2. During 77 typical records, which averaged eight paw shakes each, a single extension-flexion cycle measured by the paw shake interval (PSI) of the electromyogram record, averaged 88 ms and ranged from 55 to 110 ms. LG EMG bursts of 10 ms in duration were synchronized with the peak displacement of ankle flexion. The SOL was inactive throughout these typical records. 3. During four atypical records from one cat, the average OSI was 141 ms, and both lateral gastrocnemius (LG and soleus (SOL) were active simultaneously. At a range of 6--8 cycles/s, these slower shakes are comparable to rhythmic actions of scratching )12) and locomotion (27); cyclic movements that typically include the recruitment of soleus. 4. It is suggested that paw shaking is an automatic movement triggered primarily by large, low-threshold afferents innervating the central plantar pads, which may selectively recruit the fast extensors while inhibiting the slow extensor. This is the only movement of the hindlimb recorded to date in our laboratory in which the tlg was active without the SOL. This unique dissociation of recruitment of slow and fast ankle extensors may be dictated by the time constraints imposed by the rapid cyclic movements of paw shaking.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats
  • Electromyography
  • Hindlimb
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Movement*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction*
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology