Animal Biology , Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 41-58 (2005) Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2005. Also available online - www.brill.nl Motor unit recruitment during vertebrate locomotion Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK Abstract —Vertebrate skeletal muscles act across joints and produce segmental accelerations and therefore animal movement when they contract. Different muscles and different motor units vary in their mechanical contractile properties. Early studies on motor unit recruitment demonstrated orderly recruitment of motor units from the slowest to the fastest during a graded contraction. However, many subsequent studies illustrate conditions when alternative recruitment strategies may exist. Motor unit recruitment during locomotion is thus multifactorial and more complex than typically thought. Different types of motor unit vary in their mechanical properties, including rates of force activation and deactivation, maximum unloaded shortening velocities and the shortening velocities at which maximum mechanical power output and maximum mechanical efficiency occur. In short, it would make mechanical sense to perform fast activities with the faster motor units and slow activities with the slower motor units. However, determining patterns of motor unit recruitment during locomotion has presented experimental challenges. Comparisons between distinct muscles have shown that fast
Animal Biology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
Keywords: LOCOMOTION; MOTOR UNIT; RECRUITMENT; MUSCLE
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