Neural aspects of fatigue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Fatigue brought about by intense muscular contraction typically is accompanied by a reduction in motor-unit firing rate. The decrease in motor-unit output with fatigue appears to be caused by two interacting processes: 1) a decline in the net excitatory drive to motoneurons and 2) adaptation in the responsiveness of motoneurons to synaptic input. Whether a reduction in motor-unit firing rate in itself contributes to force loss associated with fatigue, however, is an unresolved question. The neuromuscular wisdom hypothesis suggests that decreases in firing rate help to maintain force by optimizing the input to motor units as their contractile properties change. On the other hand, recent work indicates that mechanical function of some motor units is altered during prolonged activity such that diminished firing rate would augment force loss and, thereby, contribute to fatigue. Neural adaptations, therefore, may serve to limit the extent of muscular activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-206
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996


  • Fatigue
  • Firing-rate adaptation
  • Force-frequency relation
  • Motoneuron
  • Motor cortex
  • Motor unit
  • Muscle
  • Muscle afferents
  • Recurrent inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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