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Motor units

As you have learned, every skeletal muscle fiber must be innervated by the axon terminal of a motor neuron in order to contract. Each muscle fiber is innervated by only one motor neuron. The actual group of muscle fibers in a muscle innervated by a single motor neuron is called a motor unit    . The size of a motor unit is variable depending on the nature of the muscle.

A small motor unit is an arrangement where a single motor neuron supplies a small number of muscle fibers in a muscle. Small motor units permit very fine motor control of the muscle. The best example in humans is the small motor units of the extraocular eye muscles that move the eyeballs. There are thousands of muscle fibers in each muscle, but every six or so fibers are supplied by a single motor neuron, as the axons branch to form synaptic connections at their individual NMJs. This allows for exquisite control of eye movements so that both eyes can quickly focus on the same object. Small motor units are also involved in the many fine movements of the fingers and thumb of the hand for grasping, texting, etc.

A large motor unit is an arrangement where a single motor neuron supplies a large number of muscle fibers in a muscle. Large motor units are concerned with simple, or “gross,” movements, such as powerfully extending the knee joint. The best example is the large motor units of the thigh muscles or back muscles, where a single motor neuron will supply thousands of muscle fibers in a muscle, as its axon splits into thousands of branches.

There is a wide range of motor units within many skeletal muscles, which gives the nervous system a wide range of control over the muscle. The small motor units in the muscle will have smaller, lower-threshold motor neurons that are more excitable, firing first to their skeletal muscle fibers, which also tend to be the smallest. Activation of these smaller motor units, results in a relatively small degree of contractile strength (tension) generated in the muscle. As more strength is needed, larger motor units, with bigger, higher-threshold motor neurons are enlisted to activate larger muscle fibers. This increasing activation of motor units produces an increase in muscle contraction known as recruitment    . As more motor units are recruited, the muscle contraction grows progressively stronger. In some muscles, the largest motor units may generate a contractile force of 50 times more than the smallest motor units in the muscle. This allows a feather to be picked up using the biceps brachii arm muscle with minimal force, and a heavy weight to be lifted by the same muscle by recruiting the largest motor units.

When necessary, the maximal number of motor units in a muscle can be recruited simultaneously, producing the maximum force of contraction for that muscle, but this cannot last for very long because of the energy requirements to sustain the contraction. To prevent complete muscle fatigue, motor units are generally not all simultaneously active, but instead some motor units rest while others are active, which allows for longer muscle contractions. The nervous system uses recruitment as a mechanism to efficiently utilize a skeletal muscle.

Questions & Answers

how is blood pressure measured
Ryan Reply
structure of the cell
BELLO Reply
what do u want to know about the structure of the cell?
Ebeneezer
Process of bone healing
Thelma Reply
The fractured bones are brought closer (reduction of fracture). the fibroblast cells at broken ends divide rapidly and secrete collagen that forms collar of callus. The callus holds the bones together which slowly clacifies (remodelling) and later replaced by bone tissue.
Biplav
what is the name of the two subunits of L chain of a antibody structure
Arshi Reply
The pituitary gland lies in the
Aamir Reply
bony cavity,sella tursica
Arshi
how does endochrondral ossification start in short bones?
Steven Reply
the chondroblast cells forms a cartilaginous bone model which becomes calcified in mid region and is innervated by perosteal capillaries. These capillaris replaces cartilages with bone tissue.
Biplav
define negative feedback
Oageng
mechanism that cause supression of another process. eg. the secretion of one hormone can supress the other hormone secretion.
Biplav
simply a self regulating mechanism which retun a deviated parameter to normal condition
Japhar
secretion of hormones get supressed by other hormone secretion
Kodeck
by like 😂😂😂😂
Zozo
what is RH blood group
kuukyile Reply
It is a type of system for classifying blood groups according to the presence or absence of the Rh antigen.
Rakshith
What is the most important organ in the human body?
Gbemi Reply
the heart
Phodiso
or brain
Phodiso
Why?
Gbemi
heart
Kelly
the brain specifically is referred to as the control centre ..all nerve impulses are send to the brain which stimulates other specific parts of the body
Phodiso
please if l am Blood group B+ can l marry a lady with O- blood group?
kuukyile
structure of a serous membrane
Ziyanda Reply
are you asking?
Isa
yes
MOHD
In anatomy, serous membrane (or serosa) is a smooth tissue membrane consisting of two layers of mesothelium, which secrete serous fluid. The inner layer that covers organs (viscera) in body cavities is called the visceral membrane. A second layer of epithelial cells of the serous membrane, called th
Isa
The two layers of serous membranes are named parietal and visceral. Between the two layers is a thin fluid filled space.[2] The fluid is produced by the serous membranes and stays between the two layers to reduce friction between the walls of the cavities and the internal organs when they move with
Isa
a continuation from the 1st one:: A second layer of epithelial cells of the serous membrane, called the parietal layer, lines the body wall. Between the two layers is a potential space, mostly empty except for a few milliliters of lubricating serous fluid that is secreted by the two serous membranes
Isa
Lubricated secretion of skin is called sebum
Jazil
haematopoietic
oyewale
what is the greater tronchanter?
Phodiso
the greater trochanter is  femur is a large, irregular, quadrilateral eminence and a is a part of the system of the skeleton
Jessie
Thanks Jessie...
Phodiso
what is the easiest way to learn labels of Anatomical structures?
Phodiso
what's the anatomical plan of the horse lung
musa
Name the two phases of metabolism
Grace Reply
reproduction and growth
Zozo
how about anabolism and catabolism?
Japhar
In Simply Anabolism means formation... Catabolism means breakdown
Jazil
two phases of reproductio?
Japhar
Anabolism indicates potential & catabolism potential converts to kinetic
Doctor
Name the most important life process in the human body in terms of anatomy and physiology
Grace
Nervous system
Nimco
Every system is important for body functions
Jazil
what is the difference between the functions of the adhesion belt and the desmosomes?
Mason Reply
what are the derivatives of the germ layer?
Miriam Reply
zygote
Zozo
Pls explain the atlas of the cervical vertebral column
Ifunanya Reply
why does the material not allow in mri
Simran Reply
what do you mean 'mri'
Nimco
short for magnetic resonance imaging. "the researchers used MRI to record the brain activity" a medical examination performed using magnetic resonance imaging. "he's having an MRI to determine the extent of the injury" an image obtained by magnetic resonance imaging. "after looking at the MRI, the d
Riyaz
what is the meaning of sutures
Ibrahim Reply
i do not know
Nimo
immovable joints btn two bones.eg the skull bones
Japhar
Really,it's true
Nimco
Sutures are immovable junction between two bones e.g those of the skull
Surphy

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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