Bilateral tremor responses to unilateral loading and fatiguing muscle contractions
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Although physiological tremor has been extensively studied within a single limb, tremor relationships between limbs are not well understood. Early investigations proposed that tremor in each limb is driven by CNS oscillators operating in parallel. However, recent evidence suggests that tremor in both limbs arises from shared neural inputs and is more likely to be observed under perturbed conditions. In the present study, postural tremor about the elbow joint and elbow flexor EMG activity were examined on both sides of the body in response to unilateral loading and fatiguing muscle contractions. Applying loads of 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 3.0 kg to a single limb increased tremor and muscle activity in the loaded limb but did not affect the unloaded limb, indicating that manipulating the inertial characteristics of a limb does not evoke bilateral tremor responses. In contrast, maximal-effort unilateral isometric contractions resulted in increased tremor and muscle activity in both the active limb and the nonactive limb without any changes in between-limb tremor or muscle coupling. When unilateral contractions were repeated intermittently, to the extent that maximum torque generation about the elbow joint declined by 50%, different tremor profiles were observed in each limb. Specifically, unilateral fatigue altered coupling between limbs and generated a bilateral response such that tremor and brachioradialis EMG decreased for the fatigued limb and increased in the contralateral nonfatigued limb. Our results demonstrate that activity in the nonactive limb may be due to a "spillover" effect rather than directly coupled neural output to both arms and that between-limb coupling for tremor and muscle activity is only altered under considerably perturbed conditions, such as fatigue-inducing contractions.
Journal of Neurophysiology
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Neurosciences not elsewhere classified