Extensor- and flexor-like modulation within motor pools of the rat hindlimb during treadmill locomotion and swimming

Brain Res. 1994 Aug 22;654(2):241-50. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(94)90485-5.


EMG activity was recorded from the vastus lateralis (VL, knee extensor), rectus femoris (RF, hip flexor and knee extensor), tibialis anterior (TA, ankle flexor and digit extensor) and either the lateral or medial gastrocnemius (LG, MG, knee flexors and ankle extensors) muscles of 7 adult rats during treadmill locomotion and swimming. Most flexors and extensors are activated as a single burst but each is known to be modulated differently during locomotion. For example, the extensor EMG bursts are shortened and amplitude elevated as speed increases, whereas little change occurs in the EMG duration and amplitude in flexors. The RF and VL displayed a double burst of EMG activity per cycle during treadmill locomotion and a single burst during swimming. Kinematic and EMG analyses showed that during running, one of these EMG bursts occurred primarily during swing while the other burst occurred primarily during stance. Modulation of the burst occurring during swing approximated a flexor pattern, while the second burst was modulated like a typical extensor when running over a range of speeds and grades on a treadmill. These data suggest that motoneurons within a motor pool of a uniarticular (VL) as well as a biarticular (RF) muscle can be modulated by more than one cyclical input, probably of central origin, and that under some conditions several motor pools may share the same central commands.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles
  • Animals
  • Electromyography
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle Denervation*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Swimming