Declining inhibition in ipsi- and contralateral lumbar motoneurons during contractions of an ankle extensor muscle in the cat

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Nov;70(5):1797-804. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.70.5.1797.


1. Motoneurons of pretibial ankle flexor and knee flexor and extensor muscles were recorded intracellularly in chloralose- or pentobarbitone-anesthetized cats during sustained submaximal contractions of either ipsi- or contralateral gastrocnemius medialis muscle (GM). 2. In a majority of ipsilateral motoneurons, a sustained GM contraction elicited inhibitory potentials that quickly subsided before the end of the contraction. An abrupt increase in contractile force could elicit a new series of inhibitory potentials, which declined again in spite of a maintained force level. 3. Contraction-induced effects were only exceptionally detected in contralateral triceps surae and plantaris motoneurons. In a small number of pretibial flexor and knee flexor and extensor motoneurons, declining inhibitions were observed during sustained contractions of the contralateral GM muscle. 4. At the onset of GM contractions, a variety of motoneurons uniformly receive inhibitory inputs that are quickly filtered out. Although the functional significance of this widespread initial inhibition remains to be elucidated, its rapid decline seems useful to allow subsequent recruitment of motor units as may be required for coordination of posture and movement. 5. Tendon organs are activated during muscle contraction, but it is not certain whether Ib inputs from GM can account for all the effects observed. Contribution of other afferents was considered and tested using a different experimental approach. The companion paper reports observations suggesting that effects elicited by group II afferents may cooperate in the contraction-induced inhibition of motoneurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hindlimb / innervation
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*