This study presents a model-based sensitivity analysis of the strength of voluntary muscle contraction with respect to different patterns of motor unit loss. A motor unit pool model was implemented including simulation of a motor neuron pool, muscle force, and surface electromyogram (EMG) signals. Three different patterns of motor unit loss were simulated, including (1) motor unit loss restricted to the largest ones, (2) motor unit loss restricted to the smallest ones, and (3) motor unit loss without size restriction. The model outputs including muscle force amplitude, variability, and the resultant EMG-force relation were quantified under two different motor neuron firing strategies. It was found that motor unit loss restricted to the largest ones had the most dominant impact on muscle strength and significantly changed the EMG-force relation, while loss restricted to the smallest motor units had a pronounced effect on force variability. These findings provide valuable insight toward our understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying experimental observations of muscle strength, force control, and EMG-force relation in both normal and pathological conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology