Experiments were performed involving isometric activation/relaxation of the agonist-antagonist muscle groups about the ankle joint. It is shown that phasic changes of foot torque in the dorsal direction are associated with a transient inhibition of the soleus H-reflex which is independent of anterior tibial contraction. During phasic changes in foot torque in the plantar direction, facilitation, as opposed to disinhibition of the soleus H-reflex, is graded by soleus contraction. These results support the hypothesis that the sensitivity of the monosynaptic reflex arc is one of the controlled variables of the motor system. The stretch reflex of a shortening muscle is generally facilitated, while that of a lengthening muscle is inhibited. These hypotheses are in keeping with our present knowledge of the linkage between skeletomotor and fusimotor neurones for the organization of voluntary movements.
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