Tuning of feedforward control enables stable muscle force-length dynamics after loss of autogenic proprioceptive feedback


Animals must integrate feedforward, feedback and intrinsic mechanical control mechanisms to maintain stable locomotion. Recent studies of guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) revealed that the distal leg muscles rapidly modulate force and work output to minimize perturbations in uneven terrain. Here we probe the role of reflexes in the rapid perturbation responses of muscle by studying the effects of proprioceptive loss. We induced bilateral loss of autogenic proprioception in the lateral gastrocnemius muscle (LG) using self-reinnervation. We compared in vivo muscle dynamics and ankle kinematics in birds with reinnervated and intact LG. Reinnervated and intact LG exhibit similar steady state mechanical function and similar work modulation in response to obstacle encounters. Reinnervated LG exhibits 23ms earlier steady-state activation, consistent with feedforward tuning of activation phase to compensate for lost proprioception. Modulation of activity duration is impaired in rLG, confirming the role of reflex feedback in regulating force duration in intact muscle.

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