The initial burst of impulses in responses of toad muscle spindles during stretch.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The responses of muscle spindles in the iliofibularis muscle of the cane toad Bufo marinus were examined during constant velocity stretch of the passive muscle. Spindles were found to show an 'initial burst' of high frequency impulses at the onset of stretch. Associated with the initial burst was a steep passive tension rise in the whole muscle, the short‐range elastic component (Hill, 1968), called here the passive stiffness. The size of the initial burst was found to depend on muscle length in a similar way as whole‐muscle tetanic tension. Repetitive stretch was found to reduce both the initial burst and passive stiffness. The time taken for both to return to their control values was 3 and 10 s respectively. If immediately following repetitive stretch the muscle, and hence the spindle, was held stretched for 3 s, the initial burst in response to a subsequent stretch from a shorter length remained reduced in size for 300 s. The depression could be reversed by a brief period of fusimotor stimulation. Hypertonic Ringer solutions were found to increase the initial burst and passive stiffness, while both were reduced in hypotonic solutions. Low concentrations of caffeine (1.5 mM) produced a similar decrease in both the initial burst and the passive stiffness. Calcium‐free Ringer solution left the stiffness unchanged, and increased the whole dynamic response of the spindle. Metabolic exhaustion and poisoning of the muscle caused the initial burst to increase while decreasing the active tension. It is concluded that the initial burst is an intrafusal manifestation of the passive short‐range stiffness of extrafusal muscle which is thought to be due to the formation of stable cross‐bridges between the actin and myosin filaments of myofibrils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1985

Cite this