The effect of varying the fusimotor bias on the muscle spindle responses to light tendon taps has been studied in normal human volunteers using surface electrodes at the wrist for recording whole nerve activity. Reinforcement manoeuvres were found to increase the sensitivity of the afferent responses to the mechanical stimulus. Such sensitisation was found to be exhibited more commonly as a decrease in the latency of the peak of the afferent waveform than as an increase in amplitude. Increase in amplitude of the response was seen in cases where the subject was well relaxed and the test muscle quiescent. A change in furimotor drive was also achieved by asking the subjects to close their eyes voluntarily during the test, thus depriving themselves of the visual feedback. The results under these conditions were found to be variable, though showing considerable changes from control recordings. The effect of reinforcement manoeuvres may perhaps result in increasing the dynamic fusimotor drive. Such an effect may be simulated on occluding the blood supply to the test muscle since ischaemia produces an immediate rise in the rate of afferent discharge. The method of recording is suggested as a convenient technique for clinical use.
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