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Frequency (mean and median power frequency, f and fm) and amplitude (average rectified and root mean square values, ARV and rms), parameters of the M-wave, and the dorsiflexor force parameters of the anterior tibial muscles were measured in seven healthy human subjects. Intermittent, voluntary contractions at relative intensities (40%, 60%, and 80%) of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) were performed in conjunction with electrical stimulation. The M-wave parameter changes were measured over the course of the isometric contractions. At higher force levels, M-wave potentiation was observed as increases in both ARV and rms. The ARV augmentation attained levels as high as 206.1 (SD 7.4)% of resting values after both initial and final contractions of 80% MVC, reaching statistical significance (P < 0.01). The f and fm failed to show a significant difference at any level of contraction. It was surmised that potentiation of the M-wave was the result of an increased contribution of muscle fibre type IIb recruited during higher contraction levels, reflecting the change to larger, deeper innervating motoneurons as the intensity of contraction, as a percentage of MVC, rose. Recruitment of type IIb fibres, which have been reported to have a higher energy potential and frequency content, were thought to reflect changes in the local excitability threshold of some motor units as the force intensity increased during the intermittent voluntary contractions. It is suggested that the M-wave elicited after contractions has the potential to reflect, to some extent, motor unit recruitment changes resulting from the preceding contractions, and that through comparisons of M-wave amplitude parameters contributions of varying fibre types over the course of a contraction may be indicated.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur j appl physiol occup physiol

Publication Date





77 - 86


Adult, Electric Stimulation, Electromyography, Humans, Leg, Male, Middle Aged, Muscle Contraction, Muscles, Reference Values, Volition