Journal of Neurophysiology vol:89 issue:3 pages:1299-1307
The present study was set up to examine the contribution of Ia afferent input in the generation of electromyographic (EMG) activity. Subjects walked blindfolded along a walkway while tendon vibration was applied continuously to a leg muscle. The effects of vibration were measured on mean EMG activity in stance and swing phase. The results show that vibration of the quadriceps femoris (Q) at the knee and of biceps femoris (BF) at the knee enhanced the EMG activity of these muscles and this occurred mainly in the stance phase of walking. These results suggest involvement of Ia afferent input of Q and BF in EMG activation during stance. In contrast, vibration of muscles at the ankle and hip had no significant effect on burst amplitude. Additionally, the onset time of tibialis anterior was measured to look at timing of phase transitions. Only vibration of quadriceps femoris resulted in an earlier onset of tibialis anterior within the gait cycle, suggesting involvement of these Ia afferents in the triggering of phase transitions. In conclusion, the results of the present study suggest involvement of Ia afferent input in the control of muscle activity during locomotion in humans. A limited role in timing of phase transitions is proposed as well.