Author(s): Edin B
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Abstract 1. Neurophysiological evidence that afferent information from skin receptors is important for proprioception has been gathered mainly in experiments relating to the human hand and finger joints. To investigate if proprioceptive information is also provided by skin mechanoreceptor afferents from skin areas related to large joints of postural importance, microneurography recordings were obtained in humans from skin afferents in the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve to study their responses to knee joint movements. 2. Data were collected from 60 sequentially recorded afferents from slowly (n = 23) and fast (n = 6) adapting low-threshold mechanoreceptors, hair follicle receptors (n = 24), field receptors (n = 1) and C mechanoreceptors (n = 6). Fascicular recordings showed that the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve supplies extensive areas of the thigh: from 5-10 cm below the inguinal ligament down to below and lateral to the knee joint; accordingly, the afferents originated in receptors located in wide areas of the human thigh. 3. All afferents from fast and slowly adapting low-threshold mechanoreceptors, as well as C mechanoreceptors, responded to manually applied skin stretch. In contrast, the same stimulus elicited, at most, feeble responses in hair follicle receptors. 4. Qualitative and quantitative analyses of the responses of a subset of afferents revealed that in particular slowly adapting afferents effectively encode both static and dynamic aspects of passively imposed knee joint movements. 5. It was concluded that receptors in the hairy skin of humans can provide high-fidelity information about knee joint movements. A previously undefined type of slowly adapting receptor (SA III) seemed particularly suited for this task whereas this does not seem to be the case for either hair follicle receptors or C mechanoreceptors.
This article was published in J Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics