[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We first explored whether the ability of subjects to detect the direction of slow ramp imposed movements may be improved by the application of mechanical noise to muscle tendons. Movements were plantar/dorsal flexion of the ankle at 0.04°/s, and the amplitude was just sub-threshold for each subject. A white noise signal (random vibration), low-pass filtered to 100 Hz and distributed uniformly in amplitude, was applied to both the extensor and the flexor ankle muscle tendons with four different mean amplitudes (20, 30, 100, 280 μm). The population of subjects was observed to exhibit clear stochastic-type behaviour: their ability to determine the direction of sub-threshold movements significantly increased when the two lower levels of noise were added and subsequently decreased when the noise magnitude was enhanced. Second, using microneurography, we explored the response of 9 primary muscle spindle afferents and 8 cutaneous afferents to the same imposed movements with and without noise application. While these conditions of ankle mobilisation were too small to induce a response in most of the recorded afferents, two muscle afferents exhibited responses that were characteristic of aperiodic stochastic resonance behaviour: the unit movement response was either triggered or improved by the application of an optimal level of noise. All cutaneous afferents were unresponsive to the imposed movements with or without noise application. We conclude that ankle movement sense can be significantly improved by adding an optimal level of mechanical noise to ankle muscle tendons and discuss the optimisation of the response of movement-encoding receptors that may account for this improvement. The application of a mechanical noise on ankle muscle tendons may constitute a means of improving postural stability in subjects with sensory deficits.
Experimental Brain Research 05/2013; 228(4). DOI:10.1007/s00221-013-3581-6 · 2.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We analyzed the cutaneous encoding of two-dimensional movements by investigating the coding of movement velocity for differently oriented straight-line movements and the coding of complex trajectories describing cursive letters. The cutaneous feedback was then compared with that of the underlying muscle afferents previously recorded during the same "writing-like" movements. The unitary activity of 43 type II cutaneous afferents was recorded in the common peroneal nerve in healthy subjects during imposed ankle movements. These movements consisted first of ramp-and-hold movements imposed at two different and close velocities in seven directions and secondly of "writing-like" movements. In both cases, the responses were analyzed using the neuronal population vector model. The results show that movement velocity encoding depended on the direction of the ongoing movement. Discriminating between two velocities therefore involved processing the activity of afferent populations located in the various skin areas surrounding the moving joint, as shown by the statistically significant difference observed in the amplitude of the sum vectors. Secondly, "writing-like" movements induced cutaneous neuronal patterns of activity, which were reproducible and specific to each trajectory. Lastly, the "cutaneous neuronal trajectories," built by adding the sum vectors tip-to-tail, nearly matched both the movement trajectories and the "muscle neuronal trajectories," built from previously recorded muscle afferents. It was concluded that type II cutaneous and the underlying muscle afferents show similar encoding properties of two-dimensional movement parameters. This similarity is discussed in relation to a central gating process that would for instance increase the gain of cutaneous inputs when muscle information is altered by the fusimotor drive.
Experimental Brain Research 07/2012; 221(2):167-76. DOI:10.1007/s00221-012-3160-2 · 2.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the fusimotor control of muscle spindle sensitivity may depend on the movement parameter the task is focused on, either the velocity or the final position reached. The unitary activities of 18 muscle spindle afferents were recorded by microneurography at the common peroneal nerve. We compared in two situations the responses of muscle spindle afferents to ankle movements imposed while the subject was instructed not to pay attention to or to pay attention to the movement, both in the absence of visual cues. In the two situations, three ramp-and-hold movements were imposed in random order. In one situation, the three movements differed by their velocity and in the other by the final position reached. The task consisted in ranking the three movements according to the parameter under consideration (for example, slow, fast, and medium). The results showed that paying attention to movement velocity gave rise to a significant increase in the dynamic and static responses of muscle afferents. In contrast, focusing attention on the final position reached made the muscle spindle feedback better discriminate the different positions and depressed its capacity to discriminate movement velocities. Changes are interpreted as reflecting dynamic and static gamma activation, respectively. The present results support the view that the fusimotor drive depends on the parameter the task is focused on, so that the muscle afferent feedback is adjusted to the task requirements.
Journal of Neurophysiology 12/2008; 101(2):633-40. DOI:10.1152/jn.91041.2008 · 2.89 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to test whether fusimotor control of human muscle spindle sensitivity changed when attention was selectively directed to the recognition of an imposed two-dimensional movement in the form of a written symbol. The unitary activities of 32 muscle spindle afferents (26 Ia, 6 II) were recorded by microneurography at the level of the common peroneal nerve. The patterns of firing rate in response to passive movements of the ankle, forming different letters or numbers, were compared in two conditions: control and recognition. No visual cues were given in either condition, but subjects had to recognize and name the character in one condition compared with not paying attention in the control condition. The results showed that 58% of the tested Ia afferents presented modified responses to movements when these had to be recognized. Changes in Ia afferent responses included decreased depth of modulation, increased variability of discharge, and changes in spontaneous activity. Not all changes were evident in the same afferent. Furthermore, the percentage of correctly recognized movements amounted to 63% when changes were observed, but it was only 48% when the primary ending sensitivity was unaltered. The responses of group II afferents were only weakly changed or unchanged. It is suggested that the altered muscle spindle sensitivity is because of selective changes in fusimotor control, the consequence of which might be to feed the brain movement trajectory information that is more accurate.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 06/2007; 27(19):5172-8. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0572-07.2007 · 6.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to analyse the directional coding of two-dimensional limb movements by cutaneous afferents from skin areas covering a multidirectional joint, the ankle. The activity of 89 cutaneous afferents was recorded in the common peroneal nerve, and the mean discharge frequency of each unit was measured during the outward phase of ramp and hold movements imposed in 16 different directions. Forty-two afferents responded to the movements in the following decreasing order (SA2, n = 24/27; FA2, n = 13/17; FA1, n = 3/24; SA1, n = 2/21). All the units activated responded to a specific range of directions, defining their 'preferred sector', within which their response peaked in a given direction, their 'preferred direction'. Based on the distribution of the preferred directions, two populations of afferents, and hence two skin areas were defined: the anterior and the external lateral parts of the leg. As the directional tuning of each population was cosine shaped, the neuronal population vector model was applied and found to efficiently describe the movement direction encoded by cutaneous afferents, as it has been previously reported for muscle afferents. The responses of cutaneous afferents were then considered with respect to those of the afferents from the underlying muscles, which were previously investigated, and an almost perfect matching of directional sensitivity was observed. It is suggested that the common movement-encoding characteristics exhibited by cutaneous and muscle afferents, as early as the peripheral level, may facilitate the central co-processing of their feedbacks subserving kinaesthesia.
The Journal of Physiology 05/2007; 580(Pt. 2):649-58. DOI:10.1113/jphysiol.2006.123075 · 5.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a previous study, we showed that patients with muscular dystrophies (MDs) perceive passive movements, experience sensations of illusory movement induced by muscle tendon vibration, and have proprioceptive-regulated sways in response to vibratory stimulation applied to the neck and ankle muscle tendons. These findings argue for preserved proprioceptive functions of muscle spindles. However, it is unclear whether the function of intrafusal muscle fibers is spared, i.e., whether they retain their ability to contract when submitted to a fusimotor drive. To answer this question, we analyzed the effects of reinforcement maneuvers (mental computation and the Jendrassik maneuver) that are known to increase muscle spindle sensitivity via fusimotor drive in healthy subjects. Nine patients with different MDs participated in the study. Reinforcement maneuvers increased both the mean amplitude of the Achilles tendon reflex (187 +/- 52.9% of the mean control amplitude) and the sensitivity of muscle spindle afferents to imposed movements of the ankle. The same reinforcement maneuvers failed to alter the amplitude of the Hoffmann reflex in the triceps surae muscle. These results suggest that the intrafusal muscle fibers preserve their contractile abilities in slowly progressive MDs. The reasons for a differential impairment of intrafusal and extrafusal muscle fibers and the clinical implications of the present results are discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Muscular dystrophies (MDs) are characterized by the degeneration of skeletal muscle fibers. The aim of the present study was to determine whether the intrafusal fibers of muscle spindles are also affected in MD. The functional integrity of muscle spindles was tested by analyzing their involvement in the perception of body segment movements and in the control of posture. Twenty MD patients (4 with dystrophinopathy, 5 with myotonic dystrophies, 5 with fascioscapulohumeral MD, and 6 with limb-girdle dystrophies) and 10 healthy subjects participated in the study. The MD patients perceived passive movements and experienced illusory movements similar to those perceived by healthy subjects in terms of their direction and velocity. Vibratory stimulation applied to the neck and ankle muscle tendons induced postural responses in MD patients with spatial and temporal characteristics similar to those produced by healthy subjects. These results suggest that the proprioceptive function of muscle spindles is spared in muscular dystrophies.