Differential activation of lumbar and sacral motor pools during walking at different speeds and slopes

A. H. Dewolf, Y. P. Ivanenko, K. E. Zelik, F. Lacquaniti, P. A. Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Organization of spinal motor output has become of interest for investigating differential activation of lumbar and sacral motor pools during locomotor tasks. Motor pools are associated with functional grouping of motoneurons of the lower limb muscles. Here we examined how the spatiotemporal organization of lumbar and sacral motor pool activity during walking is orchestrated with slope of terrain and speed of progression. Ten subjects walked on an instrumented treadmill at different slopes and imposed speeds. Kinetics, kinematics, and electromyography of 16 lower limb muscles were recorded. The spinal locomotor output was assessed by decomposing the coordinated muscle activation profiles into a small set of common factors and by mapping them onto the rostrocaudal location of the motoneuron pools. Our results show that lumbar and sacral motor pool activity depend on slope and speed. Compared with level walking, sacral motor pools decrease their activity at negative slopes and increase at positive slopes, whereas lumbar motor pools increase their engagement when both positive and negative slope increase. These findings are consistent with a differential involvement of the lumbar and the sacral motor pools in relation to changes in positive and negative center of body mass mechanical power production due to slope and speed.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In this study, the spatiotemporal maps of motoneuron activity in the spinal cord were assessed during walking at different slopes and speeds. We found differential involvement of lumbar and sacral motor pools in relation to changes in positive and negative center of body mass power production due to slope and speed. The results are consistent with recent findings about the specialization of neuronal networks located at different segments of the spinal cord for performing specific locomotor tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-887
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Volume122
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019

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Keywords

  • modular control
  • muscle activity
  • neuromechanics
  • spinal maps
  • walking on slopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology

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