Synchronization of single motor units during voluntary contractions in the upper and lower extremities

Myung Shin Kim, Yoshihisa Masakado, Yutaka Tomita, Naoichi Chino, Young Sook Pae, Kyung Eun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate motor unit synchronization in the time and frequency domains and compare the amount and nature of this synchronization between upper and lower extremity muscles in human subjects. Methods: A total of 120 motor unit pairs from biceps brachii (BB), first dorsal interosseous (1DI), vastus medialis (VM), and tibialis anterior (TA) on the dominant side were analyzed and compared. Pairs of motor unit spike trains were recorded from two concentric needle electrodes inserted within these muscles in healthy volunteers. Subjects were instructed to maintain a weak isometric contraction of these muscles so that an individual motor unit recorded from each concentric needle discharged at a steady rate of approximately 10 impulses/s. Pairs of motor unit spike trains were cross-correlated in the time domain, and coherence analysis in the frequency domain was performed on the same spike train data. Results: Synchronization was seen in all the muscles studied. Strength of motor unit synchronization, expressed as synchronization index (SI), was greater in 1DI muscles compared to other muscles (P < 0.01). Coherence analysis revealed significant association between motor unit firings in the 1-5 and 25-30 Hz frequency ranges in all the muscles studied. The incidence of 25-30 Hz coherence peaks were found to be greater for 1DI muscles compared to other muscles. Conclusion: The above results suggest a possible role for corticospinal projections in producing pre-synaptic inputs responsible for synchronization of motor unit firings and 25-30 Hz coherence peaks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000161
Pages (from-to)1243-1249
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • Coherence analysis
  • Cross-correlation analysis
  • Human subjects
  • Lower extremity muscles
  • Motor unit synchronization
  • Upper extremity muscles


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