Motor unit synchronization measured by cross-correlation is not influenced by short-term strength training of a hand muscle

Dawson J. Kidgell, Martin V. Sale, John G. Semmler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the study was to quantify the strength of motor unit synchronization and coherence from pairs of concurrently active motor units before and after short-term (4–8 weeks) strength training of the left Wrst dorsal interosseous (FDI) muscle. Five subjects (age 24.8 § 4.3 years) performed a training protocol three times/week that consisted of six sets of ten maximal isometric index Wnger abductions, whereas three subjects (age 27.3 § 6.7 years) acted as controls. Motor unit activity was recorded from pairs of intramuscular electrodes in the FDI muscle with two separate motor unit recording sessions obtained before and after strength training (trained group) or after 4 weeks of normal daily activities that did not involve training (control group). The training intervention resulted in a 54% (45.2 § 8.3 to 69.5 § 13.8 N, P = 0.001) increase in maximal index Wnger abduction force, whereas there was no change in strength in the control group. A total of 163 motor unit pairs (198 single motor units) were examined in both subject groups, with 52 motor unit pairs obtained from 10 recording sessions before training and 51 motor unit pairs from 10 recording sessions after training. Using the crosscorrelation procedure, there was no change in the strength of motor unit synchronization following strength training (common input strength index; 0.71 § 0.41 to 0.67 § 0.43 pulses/s). Furthermore, motor unit coherence z scores at low (0–10 Hz; 3.9 § 0.3 before to 4.4 § 0.4 after) or high (10–30 Hz; 1.7 § 0.1 before to 1.9 § 0.1 after) frequencies were not inXuenced by strength training. These motor unit data indicate that increases in strength following several weeks of training a hand muscle are not accompanied by changes in motor unit synchronization or coherence, suggesting that these features of correlated motor unit activity are not important in the expression of muscle strength.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-753
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

Cite this