Goal-dependent modulation of the long-latency stretch response at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
Journal of neurophysiology
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Many studies have demonstrated that muscle activity 50-100 ms after a mechanical perturbation (i.e., the long-latency stretch response) can be modulated in a manner that reflects voluntary motor control. These previous studies typically assessed modulation of the long-latency stretch response from individual muscles rather than how this response is concurrently modulated across multiple muscles. Here we investigated such concurrent modulation by having participants execute goal-directed reaches to visual targets after mechanical perturbations of the shoulder, elbow, or wrist while measuring activity from six muscles that articulate these joints. We found that shoulder, elbow, and wrist muscles displayed goal-dependent modulation of the long-latency stretch response, that the relative magnitude of participants' goal-dependent activity was similar across muscles, that the temporal onset of goal-dependent muscle activity was not reliably different across the three joints, and that shoulder muscles displayed goal-dependent activity appropriate for counteracting intersegmental dynamics. We also observed that the long-latency stretch response of wrist muscles displayed goal-dependent modulation after elbow perturbations and that the long-latency stretch response of elbow muscles displayed goal-dependent modulation after wrist perturbations. This pattern likely arises because motion at either joint could bring the hand to the visual target and suggests that the nervous system rapidly exploits such simple kinematic redundancy when processing sensory feedback to support goal-directed actions.