Exp Neurol. 1987 Oct; 98(1): 41-53.
Contralateral intramuscular acupuncture-like electrical stimulation differentially changes the short-latency responses to muscle stretch.
Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Measurements were made from the human first dorsal interosseous and extensor digitorum communis muscles of the surface electromyographic activity reflexly produced by brief stretch of the muscle. For the first dorsal interosseous muscle, reflex EMG activity was also produced by electrical stimulation of the ulnar nerve at the wrist. The procedures were carried out before, during, and after 25 min of nonspecific, low-frequency electrical stimulation to the contralateral arm delivered through intramuscular electrodes. Control stimulation was delivered subcutaneously. The EMG recorded during a maintained contraction was rectified, filtered, and averaged. Two reflex components (M1 and M2) of the EMG response to muscle stretch or ulnar nerve stimulation were investigated. During nonspecific intramuscular stimulation to the contralateral arm, M1 responses of the extensor digitorum communis were depressed, initially by 37%. The effect began to fade during stimulation but extended beyond it. Reflex responses were elicited alternately by brief stretch of the first dorsal interosseus muscle and by electrical stimulation of the ulnar nerve in the same experiment. Nonspecific intramuscular stimulation to the contralateral arm depressed the M1 response to stretch, but had no effect on the M1 response to electrical stimulation. It is concluded that nonspecific intramuscular electrical stimulation reduces the amplitude of the M1 component of the response to brief stretch of contralateral muscle, either through depression of fusimotor activity or inhibition of oligosynaptic pathways that contribute to the early reflex response.