Motor System I-III Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Motor System I-III Deck (33)
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What is a motor unit?

Motor neuron and the muscle fibers it innervates

Each muscle fiber innervated by ONE motor neuron

One motor neuron innervates multiple muscle fibers


Explain the concept of the “size principle”

Systematic recruitment of smaller-to-larger motor units

Motor units vary in size and properties

3 types: Slow motor units, Fast-fatigue-resistant motor units, Fast-fatigable motor units

Small neurons recruited first because of V=IR and because large neurons have more channels and are leakier

If enough action potentials, get recruitment of the larger motor units (to run for example)


How does exercise influence the motor unit

Motor unit properties are use-dependent

Endurance exercise tends to slow the contractile properties of motor units and increase endurance and strength. High intensity strength training increases amount of contractile protein

Effects not entirely on motor unit phenotype; also central changes that may alter recruitment


Where within the motor systems are alpha motor neurons organized somatotopically?

Alpha motor neuron cell bodies reside in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and they are organized somatotopically

Lateral musculature innervated by laterally situated motor neurons

Medial musculature innervated by medially situated motor neurons

The same arrangement holds along the rostro-caudal extent of the spinal cord: Cervical and lumbar enlargements can be seen within the spinal cord, representing the enlarged motor neuron populations that innervate the upper and lower limb musculature respectively.


Muscle spindle innervation

Proprioceptor (sensory receptor)

They send info out (stretch) but they also receive info from gamma motor neurons

Stretch of the muscle spindle is communicated to the spinal cord through group Ia and group II sensory afferents, which are large, fast axons that fire action potentials in response to mechanical stretch of the intrafusal muscle fibers.

Ia sensory afferents contact α motor neurons in the spinal cord which trigger muscle contraction of the homonymous muscle fiber in response to stretch (reflex)

Also, innervated by gamma neurons

During voluntary contraction, α and ɣ motor neurons fire together, shortening both the extrafusal (normal skeletal muscle) and intrafusal (spindle) muscle fibers together. By shortening the spindle (i.e. intrafusal muscle fiber), the system maintains sensitivity to stretch, thus it can detect stretch of a contracted or relaxed muscle.


Golgi tendon organ innervation

Innervated by and signal via type Ib sensory afferents that wind around and within the collagen strands

During muscle contraction, force increases the tension on collagen strands and pinches the intertwined afferent fibers, causing them to fire.

Activated in active contractions with a load


Describe the basic stretch reflex circuit

Monosynaptic reflex

The hammer tap stretches the muscle, stimulating activity in the Ia sensory axons (fast!), reporting stretch of muscle spindles. This sensory information is relayed to and activates α motor neurons in the spinal cord which in turn contract the stretched muscle


Slow motor units

Small alpha motor neurons
Innervate a small number of slow oxidative muscle fibers
Generate small forces
Fatigue slowly
Recruited first due to high resistance V=IR


Fast-fatigue-resistant motor units

Intermediate sized alpha motor neurons
Innverate an intermediate number of fast oxidative glycolytic muscle fibers
Generate large forces
Fatigue slowly
Recruited second


Fast-fatigable motor units

Large alpha motor neurons
Innervate a large number of fast glycolytic muscle fibers
Generate large forces
Fatigue quickly
Recruited last


What sensory info do muscle muscle spindles encode

Detects muscle stretch
Activated in unexpected stretch


Where are muscle spindles located?

Embedded within a muscle (parallel orientation)

Specialized muscle fiber (intrafusal muscle fibers) run in parallel with the main “extrafusal” muscle fiber (the force-generating muscles we are all familiar with)


What sensory information do golgi tendon organs encode


Preferentially sensitive to muscle tension, not passive stretch (like a Chinese finger trap)

Used to regulate force


Where are golgi tendon organs located?

Reside at the junction of a muscle and a tendon

Situated in series with the muscle and tendon


What happens if a muscle shortens unexpectedly?

Spindle longer than length of extrafusal muscle fibers (under contracted)
1a afferent drops firing rate
Alpha motor neuron experiences reduced drive
Lengthens muscle


What serves as a mechanism for rapid error-correction in muscle contraction?

Coactivation of α and ɣ motor neurons


If something is lighter than you expect when you pick it up, what happens?

Ia rate drops and muscle relaxes


If something is heavier than you expect when you pick it up, what happens?

Muscle spindles experience stretch, so Ia afferents rate increases and muscle contracts


Extensor-flexor coupling circuits

Ib afferents innervating the golgi tendon organs (GTOs) directly contact inhibitory and excitatory interneurons in the spinal cord. In contrast to the jerk that is produced during the stretch reflex, this reflex protects the musculature from over exertion by relaxing the synergist (homonymous) muscle and contracting the antagonist.

The key take home message is that activity of synergist and antagonist musculature is coordinated in part by spinal cord interneuronal circuitry.


Crossed-extensor reflex

Stepping on tack

Body reflexively shifts weight to the alternate leg and lifts the pricked foot

Cutaneous (nociceptors in this case) sensory receptors innervate spinal interneuronal motor networks. These coordinate extensor relaxation and flexor contraction on the same side as the stimulus and a converse extensor contraction and flexor relaxation on the contralateral side


Central pattern generator definition, describe a behavior that uses one, and where it resides

Neural networks that can produce patterned, rhythmic outputs in the absence of sensory or central input

Example behavior: Locomotion, swimming

1. Part of the locomotor CPG is the rhythm generator, or ‘clock’.
2. The ‘clock’ component innervates and drives interneuronal networks that amplify the clock signal and distribute it appropriately to coordinate muscle contraction and relaxation.
3. CPGs for both limbs interact via commissural fibers to coordinate between-limb use.
4. CPGs are modulated by descending pathways that can affect clock rate and motor patterns.
5. Some of the same circuits involved in simple reflexes discussed earlier are flexibly engaged in locomotion.

Where it resides: In spinal cord we think


What is meant by the ‘hierarchical’ organization of the motor system

Increasingly flexible, voluntary control as neuron populations shift from the periphery to the forebrain.


Descending pathways that control finger movement (where is spinal cord?)

Motor: Axons that course laterally
All decussate
Lateral corticospinal tract


Descending pathways that control axial musculature (where in spinal cord?)

Vestibulospinal and reticulospinal pathways participate in organizing axial musculature and maintaining balance

Axons that course medially
Some decussate, some don't
Ventral corticospinal tract


Two ways in which motor cortical plasticity is advantageous for recovery and/or treatment of diseases or damage to the motor system?

1. Sprouting of new connections from adjacent areas subserve motor control over the affected body part

2. Practice- subtle synaptic changes likely occur during practice and repeated performance of an action leads to expansion of that region of the cortex


Reciprocal innervation

In the stretch reflex, Type Ia afferents within the reflex arc directly contact alpha motor neurons that contract the homonymous muscle (the muscle that has been stretched).

Ia afferents also contact inhibitory interneurons that reside within the spinal cord that then inhibit motor neurons controlling the opposing “antagonist” muscle

Synergist and antagonist muscles are coordinated to contract and relax nearly simultaneously.


Lower motor neuron syndrome symptoms and causes

Refers to the loss or degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord and results in : Paralysis; Weakness; Loss of deep reflexes; Decreased muscle tone; Muscle atrophy; Spontaneous twitches due to changes in muscle excitability after denervation

Syphilis : dorsal root ganglia
Herniated disc: sensory nerve root
Polio or ALS: motor neuron
Guillan-Barre: demyelination of peripheral motor nerve
Lambert-Eaton syndrome: peripheral Ca channel attack hits NMJ
Muscular dystrophy: can affect the muscle directly.


Upper motor neuron syndrome

Refers to the lesion of premotor neurons (corticospinal; brainstem)

Results in: Contralateral muscle flaccidity (body and lower face). Weakness; Spasticity (including increased muscle tone, hyperactive deep reflexes, clonus, or large involuntary rhythmic movements because of loss of inhibitory tone mediated by descending projections); Babinski sign; Loss of voluntary movements


Colliculospinal tract


orientation of gaze and stance to a stimulus in space


Vestibulospinal tract

Important for posture, balance, and orienting movements (if you fall, brings arms out)