Faculté des sciences

A mathematical model for the steady activation of a skeletal muscle

Gabriel, Jean-Pierre ; Studer, L. M. ; Rüegg, Dieter G. ; Schnetzer, M.-A.

In: SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, 2008, vol. 68, no. 3, p. 869-889

A skeletal muscle is composed of motor units, each consisting of a motoneuron and the muscle fibers it innervates. The input to the motor units is formed of electrical signals coming from higher motor centers and propagated to the motoneurons along a network of nerve fibers. Because of its complexity, this network still escapes actual direct observations. The present model describes the steady... Plus

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    Summary
    A skeletal muscle is composed of motor units, each consisting of a motoneuron and the muscle fibers it innervates. The input to the motor units is formed of electrical signals coming from higher motor centers and propagated to the motoneurons along a network of nerve fibers. Because of its complexity, this network still escapes actual direct observations. The present model describes the steady state activation of a muscle, i.e., of its motor units. It incorporates the network as an unknown quantity and, given the latter, predicts the input-force relation (activation curve) of the muscle. Conversely, given a suitable activation curve, our model enables the recovery of the network. This step is performed by using experimental data about the activation curve, and the whole activation process of a muscle can then be theoretically investigated. In this way, this approach provides a link between the macroscopic (activation curve) and microscopic (network) levels. From a mathematical viewpoint, solving the preceding inverse problem is equivalent to solving an integral equation of a new type.