F responses were recorded from the surface of the tibialis muscle and medial aspect of the soleus muscle in 14 normal subjects. The persistence (that is the fraction of measurable F responses found with a series of supramaximal stimuli) and average F amplitudes (measured peak-to-peak and based on at least five F responses) were determined both at rest and with isometric contraction with the ankle maintained at 90 degrees. Although the persistence at rest was significantly less in the tibialis anterior soleus than the (p less than 0.001), no significant difference was found with the muscles contracted. This was associated with a significant increase in both average F amplitudes and average F amplitude/direct motor response ratios in the tibialis anterior in comparison to the soleus. In four of the subjects, studies were also performed when the H reflex in the soleus muscle was eliminated by thigh compression. Comparable changes in both F response persistence and average F amplitude were found with and without an H reflex. These data indicate that, in contrast to the situation at rest, with isometric contraction the "central excitatory state" of the tibialis anterior is at least as great as in its antagonist antigravity muscles and that this is not due simply to increased large fiber reflex input associated with agonist contraction.
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