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Modelling of force production in the muscle

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PURPOSE--Our previous research on the tibialis anterior muscle revealed three distinct linear rates against force. The slope, describing the rate of change of firing rate with respect to force, was moderate in the first region, low in the second and high in the last. Although very limited in size, preliminary data recorded from the first dorsal interosseous muscle suggests a different activation pattern for this muscle. Specifically, the last region appears to have almost zero slope, equivalent to a plateau of the firing rates; whereas in the TA, this region has the highest slope. In order to investigate whether the different activation strategies seemingly employed by the central nervous system for these two muscles could be due to a need to accommodate their different mechanical properties, we have taken a computer modelling approach.

METHODOLOGY--Building on the model we previously advanced to account for the generation of firing rates based on the concept of common drive, we have appended a mechanical component to complete the force production process. The implementation of this model on the computer will allow for the simulation of the behavior of different muscles by choosing appropriate twitch waveforms, recruitment thresholds and distribution of motor unit types. We will use this model to simulate the characteristics of the two muscles and determine if the different activation patterns can be a result of differing mechanical properties.