Timing and extent of finger force enslaving during a dynamic force task cannot be explained by EMG activity patterns

Mojtaba Mirakhorlo*, Huub Maas, Dirk Jan H.E.J. Veeger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Finger enslaving is defined as the inability of the fingers to move or to produce force independently. Such finger enslaving has predominantly been investigated for isometric force tasks. The aim of this study was to assess whether the extent of force enslaving is dependent on relative finger movements. Ten right-handed subjects (22–30 years) flexed the index finger while counteracting constant resistance forces (4, 6 and 8 N) orthogonal to the fingertip. The other, non-instructed fingers were held in extension. EMG activities of the mm. flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) and extensor digitorum (ED) in the regions corresponding to the index, middle and ring fingers were measured. Forces exerted by the non-instructed fingers increased substantially (by 0.2 to 1.4 N) with flexion of the index finger, increasing the enslaving effect with respect to the static, pre-movement phase. Such changes in force were found 260–370 ms after the initiation of index flexion. The estimated MCP joint angle of the index finger at which forces exerted by the non-instructed fingers started to increase varied between 4° and 6°. In contrast to the finger forces, no significant changes in EMG activity of the FDS regions corresponding to the non-instructed fingers upon index finger flexion were found. This mismatch between forces and EMG of the non-instructed fingers, as well as the delay in force development are in agreement with connective tissue linkages being slack when the positions of the fingers are similar, but pulled taut when one finger moves relative to the others. Although neural factors cannot be excluded, our results suggest that mechanical connections between muscle-tendon structures were (at least partly) responsible for the observed increase in force enslaving during index finger flexion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0183145
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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