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Pratt - 1995 - Evidence of positive force feedback among hindlimb extensors in the intact standing cat


Pratt C. Evidence of positive force feedback among hindlimb extensors in the intact standing cat. J Neurophysiol. 1995 Jun;73(6):2578-83. PUBMED

10 Word Summary

GTOs are most likely associated with positive force feedback in response to perturbations.


1. The functional organization of heterogenic reflexes produced by activation of extensor force receptors (Golgi tendon organs) was studied in intact cats during stationary stance. Intramuscular stimulation (200 Hz, 20 ms) of hindlimb extensor muscles via chronically implanted electrodes was used to evoke weak muscle contractions and naturally activate Golgi tendon organ Ib afferents while cats stood unrestrained with each paw on a moveable triaxial force plate. 2. Intramuscular stimulation of every hindlimb extensor muscle tested in this study evoked excitatory responses that were widely distributed among hindlimb extensor muscles. Source and target specializations in the functional organization of this positive force feedback system were also observed. For example, stimulation of ankle extensors typically excited extensors and flexors at the ankle and hip (but not knee), whereas stimulation of hip extensors typically excited only extensors at all three joints. In addition, intramuscular stimulation of either lateral (LG) or medial (MG) gastrocnemius consistently inhibited soleus while exciting other extensors at the ankle and more proximal joints. 3. The electromyographic (EMG) reflex responses described above are attributed to the natural (via muscle contraction) activation of extensor group Ib afferents. Direct activation of intramuscular afferents by the stimulus was unlikely because there was no evidence that Ia afferents, which have the lowest electrical thresholds, were activated. Both the observed inhibition of the synergist, soleus, and the excitation of the antagonist, tibialis anterior, produced by gastrocnemius stimulation are opposite to the reflex effects that would be produced at the ankle by activation of gastrocnemius Ia afferents.


  • This paper compares reflexive behavior that is counter to stretch reflexes.  Stimulating the muscle bodies without stimulating gamm-motor-neurons showed interesting positive-force feedback phenomena.  It is presumed that muscle spindles were not active, thus Ib afferents associated with GTOs were the cause of the behavior.