Influence of the interimpulse interval on the propagation velocity of the motor unit potentials

Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology - 1991-01-01Kossev A, Gerasimenko Y, Gantchev N, Christova P
The influence of the rate of firing of separate human motor units (MUs) from m. biceps brachii on the propagation velocity of the extraterritorial MU potentials was investigated. The experiments were carried out under normal physiological conditions--different level of isometric voluntary activity and different rate of firing--respectively. The subjects succeeded to keep 3-5 different levels of relatively constant rate of firing with mean value of the interimpulse intervals ranging from 67.8 to 183.2 ms. Wire subcutaneous branched electrodes and conventional bipolar wire electrodes were used to separate potentials from single motor units and as a trigger to average surface electromyographic (EMG) signals. MUs with superficially and deep lying muscle fibers were investigated. The propagation velocity of the potentials of superficially lying MUs was calculated from the time shift between the EMG signals picked up by means of two monopolar surface electrodes placed along the direction of the muscle fibers. For deep lying MUs the changes in the propagation velocity were estimated indirectly by the changes in the duration of the extraterritorial MU potentials. No systematic relationship between the rate of firing and the velocity of propagation was found.