A study has been made of the responses of motoneurones innervating small muscles of the hand to electrical and mechanical stimulation of the skin. Both excitatory and inhibitory effects could be observed in the same muscle after a single stimulus to a given area of skin. The earliest excitatory and inhibitory responses are probably mediated by group III and the smaller group II afferent nerve fibres. A later inhibition results from activity in the larger group II fibres which are connected to cutaneous mechanoreceptors, especially those in the tips of the fingers and thumb. This late inhibitory reflex may operate through the fusimotor system. The possible roles of these reflexes are discussed in relation to previous investigations in man and the cat.
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