Differential effects of plantar cutaneous afferent excitation on soleus stretch and H-reflex

Dimitry Sayenko, Albert H. Vette, Hiroki Obata, Maria I. Alekhina, Masami Akai, Kimitaka Nakazawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Previous studies have demonstrated that plantar cutaneous afferents can adjust motoneuron excitability, which may contribute significantly to the control of human posture and locomotion. However, the role of plantar cutaneous afferents in modulating the excitability of stretch and H-reflex with respect to the location of their excitation remains unclear. In the present study, it was hypothesized that electrical stimulation delivered to the sole of the foot might be followed by modulation of spinal excitability that depends on: (1) the stimulation location and (2) the reflex studied. In these experiments, conditioned and unconditioned stretch and H-reflexes were evoked in 16 healthy subjects in a seated position. Both reflexes were conditioned by non-noxious electrical plantar cutaneous afferent stimulation at two different sites, the heel and metatarsal regions, at four different conditioning-test (CT) intervals. The conditioning stimulation delivered to the heel caused a significant facilitation of the soleus stretch reflex for all CT intervals, whereas the soleus H-reflex had significant facilitation only at CT interval of 50 ms and significant inhibition at longer CT intervals. Stimulation delivered to the metatarsal region, however, resulted mainly in reduced stretch and H-reflex sizes. This study extends the reported findings on the contribution of plantar cutaneous afferents within spinal interneuron reflex circuits as a function of their location and the reflex studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-769
Number of pages9
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Motoneuron excitability
  • Plantar cutaneous afferents
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Soleus H-reflex
  • Soleus stretch reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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