F responses recorded from flexor and extensor muscles were analysed in 18 normal subjects and in 16 patients with motor system abnormalities. The prominence of the F responses was evaluated quantitatively by determining the persistence--that is, the fraction of measurable F responses which actually occur after a series of supramaximal stimuli--and average amplitude of the F responses. In the normal resting state, the data are consistent with the hypothesis that the "central excitatory states" of motoneurones is greater in the antigravity muscles than in those muscles not stretched by gravity. This pattern was disrupted in eight of the 16 patients with motor system abnormalities caused by central nervous system lesions. These changes reflect a clinically testable aspect of the pathophysiology of certain motor system disorders.
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