The patellar tendon was tapped by random impulses of triangular waveform and motor unit spikes were recorded from the quadriceps femoris muscle. The cross-correlogram of the taps and the motor unit spikes revealed a primary correlation kernel, the width of which was interpreted as an indicator of the mean time-to-peak of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) elicited monosynaptically in an alpha-motoneurone by the triangular taps. The mean time-to-peak was 7.6 +/- 1.3 ms in normal subjects and 9.0 +/- 1.8 ms in spastic patients (P less than 0.005). The prolonged time-to-peak of EPSP in spastic patients is consistent with the hypothesis that as a result of degeneration of the corticomotoneuronal tract the Ia axons sprout and form more synaptic contacts on distal portions of the dendrites of alpha-motoneurones.
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