Objective. Coactivation of gamma and alpha motor neuron activity ensures that muscle spindle responsiveness is maintained during muscle contractions. However, some evidence suggests that the activity of gamma motor neurons is phase-advanced with respect to that of alpha motor neurons during manual control tasks. We hypothesized that this might be a deliberate control strategy to maximize movement accuracy.Approach. Using a computational model of the neural activation of a muscle and its type Ia sensory feedback to the motor neurons, we systematically investigated the impact of the phase difference between oscillatory descending input to alpha and dynamic gamma motor neurons. Specifically, the amplification of the alpha motor neuron drive to the muscle was investigated as a function of the frequency of the synaptic input (1-9 Hz individually or superimposed) and the alpha-gamma phase difference (0-2π).Main results. Simulation results showed that when the phase advance of the dynamic gamma drive resulted in delays between muscle velocity and type Ia afferent feedback similar to those previously observed experimentally, low-frequency components (1 and 2 Hz) of the motor neuron synaptic input were amplified (gain up to 1.7). On the other hand, synaptic input at higher frequencies was unaffected.Significance. This finding suggests that by imposing a phase advance of the input to dynamic gamma motor neurons, components of the neural drive usually associated with voluntary control are amplified. In this way, our study suggests that this neural strategy increases the control-to-neural-noise ratio of the motor output during movement.
|Tidsskrift||Journal of Neural Engineering|
|Status||Udgivet - 28 maj 2021|