Purpose: This study investigated fatigue-related modulation of common neural inputs to motor units (MUs) under 5 Hz, which determines force precision control. Methods: Twenty-seven adults performed a sequence of fatiguing contractions. The participants were assessed with a static isometric index abduction at 20% maximal voluntary contraction in the pre-test and post-test. Discharge characteristics of MUs of the first dorsal interosseous muscle were analyzed with decomposed EMG signals. Results: Along with increases in the mean (58.40 ± 11.76 ms → 62.55 ± 10.83 ms, P = 0.029) and coefficient of variation (0.204 ±.014 → 0.215 ± 0.017, P = 0.002) in inter-spike intervals, the fatiguing contraction caused reductions in the mean frequency (16.84 ± 3.31 Hz → 15.59 ± 3.21 Hz, P = 0.027) and spectral dispersions (67.54 ± 4.49 → 62.64 ± 6.76 Hz, P = 0.007) of common neural drive, as estimated with smoothed cumulative motor unit spike trains (SCMUSTs). Stabilogram diffusion analysis of SCMUSTs revealed significant fatigue-related reductions in the long-term effective diffusion coefficient (1.91 ± 0.77 Hz2/s → 1.61 ± 0.61 Hz2/s, P = 0.020) and long-term scaling exponent (0.480 ± 0.013 Hz2/s → 0.471 ± 0.017 Hz2/s, P = 0.014). After fatiguing contraction, mutual information of force fluctuations and SCMUSTs was augmented roughly by 12.95% (P = 0.041). Conclusions: Muscular fatigue could compress and shift the low-frequency common drive to MUs toward lower spectral bands, thereby enhancing transmission of twitch forces through the muscle–tendon complex with a low-pass filter property. The fatigue-induced changes involve increased closed-loop control of the common modulation of MU discharge rates.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Physiology (medical)