Quantitative Analysis of Feedback During Locomotion

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Ross, Kyla Turpin
Nichols, T. Richard
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It is known that muscles possess both intrinsic and reflexive responses to stretch, both of which have been studied extensively. While much is known about heterogenic and autogenic reflexes during XER, these have not been well characterized during locomotion. In this study, we mapped the distribution of autogenic and heterogenic feedback in hindlimb extensor muscles using muscle stretch in the spontaneously locomoting premammillary decerebrate cat. We used natural stimulation and compared stretch-evoked force responses obtained during locomotion with those obtained during XER. The goal was to ascertain whether feedback was modulated between the two states. We found that heterogenic feedback pathways, particularly those emanating from MG, remained inhibitory during locomotion while autogenic feedback specifically in MG increases in gain. Furthermore, increases in MG gain were due to force-dependent mechanisms. This suggests that rather than an abrupt transition from inhibition to excitation with changes in motor tasks, these pathways coexist and contribute to maintaining interjoint coordination. Increases in autogenic gain provide a localized loading reflex to contribute to the completion of the movement. The results of these experiments are clinically significant, particularly for the rehabilitation of spinal cord injured patients. To effectively administer treatment and therapy for patients with compromised spinal reflexes, a complete understanding of the circuitry is required.
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