Passive Proprioceptive Training Alters the Sensitivity of Muscle Spindles to Imposed Movements


  • Ackerley Rochelle
  • Samain-Aupic Léonard
  • Ribot-Ciscar Edith


  • Microneurography
  • Muscle spindle
  • Muscle afferent
  • Gamma fusimotor system
  • Proprioception
  • Training Significance Statement

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Humans rely on precise proprioceptive feedback from our muscles, which is important in both the acquisition and execution of movements, to perform daily activities. Somatosensory input from the body shapes motor learning through central processes, as demonstrated for tasks using the arm, under active (self-generated) and passive conditions. Presently, we investigated whether passive movement training of the ankle increased proprioceptive acuity (psychophysical experiment) and whether it changed the peripheral proprioceptive afferent signal (microneurography experiment). In the psychophysical experiment, the ankle of 32 healthy human participants was moved passively using pairs of ramp-and-hold movements in different directions. In a pretraining test, participants made judgements about the movement direction in a two-alternative forced choice paradigm. Participants then underwent passive movement training, but only half were cued for learning, where a reference position was signaled by a sound and the participant had to learn to recognize this position; they then completed a post-training test. In a paradigm using the same setup, nine healthy participants underwent microneurography recordings of Ia muscle afferents from the peroneal nerve, where all were cued during training. In the psychophysical experiment, proprioceptive acuity improved with training only in the cued group. In the microneurography experiment, we found that muscle afferent firing was modulated, via an increase in the dynamic index, after training. We suggest that changes in muscle afferent input from the periphery can contribute to and support central perceptual and motor learning, as shown under passive conditions using ankle movements, which may be exploited for movement rehabilitation.

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