Motor unit action potential amplitude during low torque fatiguing contractions versus high torque non-fatiguing contractions: a multilevel analysis

Kylie K. Harmon, Adam S. Hamilton, Brent D. Johnson, Frank J. Bartek, Ryan M. Girts, Rob J. MacLennan, Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn, Matt S. Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: The ability to maintain an absolute, submaximal torque level during fatiguing contractions is controlled, in part, by the recruitment of larger motor units. These motor units are commonly identified based on greater action potential peak-to-peak amplitude values. It is unclear, however, if motor unit action potential (MUAP) amplitude values during low torque, fatiguing contractions reach similar levels as those observed during non-fatigued, high torque contractions. To establish a clearer understanding of motor unit control during fatigue, we compared MUAP amplitude during 50 and 80% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) torque contractions and at the beginning, middle, and end of a 30% MVC fatigue protocol. Methods: Eleven untrained men (mean age = 24 years) performed isometric contractions at 50 and 80% MVC, followed by repeated contractions at 30% MVC. Surface electromyographic (EMG) signals were detected from the vastus lateralis and decomposed to quantify the peak-to-peak amplitude of individual MUAPs. A two-level multilevel model was estimated, allowing examination of simultaneous measures of MUAP amplitude within participants and controlling for the dependence between measures within participants. Results: Results from the multilevel analyses suggested that there were not statistically significant differences in MUAP amplitude between 80% MVC and end fatigue. Separate repeated-measures analyses of variance indicated that there were not statistically significant mean differences in greatest MUAP or surface EMG amplitude between 80% MVC and end fatigue. Conclusions: MUAP and surface EMG amplitude values during a 30% MVC fatiguing protocol appear to be comparable to those observed during a non-fatigued 80% MVC condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1157
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume121
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fatigue
  • Motor unit recruitment
  • Motor unit size
  • Surface EMG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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