Is the firing rate of motor units in different vastus medialis regions modulated similarly during isometric contractions? Local Modulation of VM MUs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Leonardo M.L. de Souza
  • Roger G.T. Mello
  • Liliam F. de Oliveira
  • Taian M. Vieira

Colleges, School and Institutes


Introduction: Previous evidence suggests the fibers of different motor units reside within distinct vastus medialis (VM) regions. It remains unknown whether the activity of these motor units may be modulated differently. Herein we assess the discharge rate of motor units detected proximodistally from the VM to address this issue.

Methods: Surface electromyograms (EMGs) were recorded proximally and distally from the VM while 10 healthy subjects performed isometric contractions. Single motor units were decomposed from surface EMGs. The smoothed discharge rates of motor units identified from the same and from different VM regions were then cross‐correlated.

Results: During low‐level contractions, the discharge rate varied more similarly for distal (cross‐correlation peak; interquartile interval: 0.27–0.40) and proximal (0.28–0.52) than for proximodistal pairs of VM motor units (0.20–0.33; P = 0.006).

Discussion: The discharge rates of motor units from different proximodistal VM regions show less similarity in their variations than those of pairs of units either distally or proximally.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle & Nerve
Issue number2
Early online date29 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2018


  • compartmentalization, knee, motor unit, quadriceps, surface electromyography, vastus medialis