Contraction level, but not force direction or wrist position, affects the spatial distribution of motor unit recruitment in the biceps brachii muscle

Daniele Borzelli, Marco Gazzoni, Alberto Botter, Laura Gastaldi, Andrea d’Avella, Taian M. Vieira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Different motor units (MUs) in the biceps brachii (BB) muscle have been shown to be preferentially recruited during either elbow flexion or supination. Whether these different units reside within different regions is an open issue. In this study, we tested wheter MUs recruited during submaximal isometric tasks of elbow flexion and supination for two contraction levels and with the wrist fixed at two different angles are spatially localized in different BB portions. Methods: The MUs’ firing instants were extracted by decomposing high-density surface electromyograms (EMG), detected from the BB muscle of 12 subjects with a grid of electrodes (4 rows along the BB longitudinal axis, 16 columns medio-laterally). The firing instants were then used to trigger and average single-differential EMGs. The average rectified value was computed separately for each signal and the maximal value along each column in the grid was retained. The center of mass, defined as the weighted mean of the maximal, average rectified value across columns, was then consdiered to assess the medio-lateral changes in the MU surface representation between conditions. Results: Contraction level, but neither wrist position nor force direction (flexion vs. supination), affected the spatial distribution of BB MUs. In particular, higher forces were associated with the recruitment of BB MUs whose action potentials were represented more medially. Conclusion: Although the action potentials of BB MUs were represented locally across the muscle medio-lateral region, dicrimination between elbow flexion or supination seems unlikely from the surface representation of MUs action potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-860
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume120
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • High-density EMG
  • Motor control
  • Motor units decomposition
  • Surface EMG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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