The H-reflex of 120 soleus motoneurons was recorded using fibre EMG. The recovery profile of these motoneurons was studied during monitoring surface H-reflex records in 28 adult subjects. The spectrum of motoneurons tested was homogenous with two extremes of neurons having different characteristics. A motoneuron population (forming about 69% of our sample) had a high threshold level for electrical stimuli, short recovery time, and short recovery fringe time (called type A). A second population of motoneurons (forming about 20-30% of our sample) had a low threshold level for electrical stimuli, long recovery fringe time (called type B). During an isometric muscle contraction every motoneuron showed an early shift in recovery time (i.e. each had a shorter recovery time) with shortened recovery fringe time. These changes were larger for motoneurons type B than motoneurons type A. With paired identical electrical stimuli of varying interstimulus intervals a motoneuron may fire in response to the conditioning and test stimuli giving an H2, but not response to both stimuli. This occured for interstimulus intervals of 4-11 ms. A strong inhibition period was recorded with interstimulus intervals of 12-80 ms in which all motoneurons did not show any recovery. Most motoneurons recovered in orderly fashion between 80 and 300 ms of interstimulus interval, and this recovery coincided with the fast recovery recorded in surface H-reflex. All motoneurons were recovered by 3000 ms of interstimulus intervals. These findings emphasize the importance of eliciting the H-reflex every 3-5 s in H-reflex methodology in order to be assured that all excited motoneurons have been recovered. © 1987.
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