We recently examined the extent to which motor units of digit flexor muscles receive common input during multidigit grasping. This task elicited moderate to strong motor-unit synchrony (common input strength, CIS) across muscles (flexor digitorum profundus, FDP, and flexor pollicis longus, FPL) and across FDP muscle compartments, although the strength of this common input was not uniform across digit pairs. To further characterize the neural mechanisms underlying the control of multidigit grasping, we analyzed the relationship between firing of single motor units from these hand muscles in the frequency domain by computing coherence. We report three primary findings. First, in contrast to what has been reported in intrinsic hand muscles, motor units belonging to different muscles and muscle compartments of extrinsic digit flexors exhibited significant coherence in the 0- to 5- and 5- to 10-Hz frequency ranges and much weaker coherence in the higher 10-20 Hz range (maximum 0.0025 and 0.0008, respectively, pooled across all FDP compartment pairs). Second, the strength and incidence of coherence differed considerably across digit pairs. Third, contrary to what has been reported in the literature, across-muscle coherence can be stronger and more prevalent than within-muscle coherence, as FPL-FDP2 (thumb-index digit pair) exhibited the strongest and most prevalent coherence in our data (0.010 and 43% at 3 Hz, respectively). The heterogeneous organization of common input to these muscles and muscle compartments is discussed in relation to the functional role of individual digit pairs in the coordination of multiple digit forces in grasping.
ASJC Scopus subject areas