Postcontraction depression reciprocal inhibition in human forearm muscles

Alberto Priori, Alessandra Pesenti, Alberto Cappellari, Guglielmo Scarlato, Sergio Barbieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested whether a preceding muscle contraction changes reciprocal inhibition (RI) between forearm antagonists. RI was studied in 14 healthy subjects by assessing changes in the H reflex (evoked by median-nerve stimulation) in forearm flexor muscles after conditioning radial-nerve stimulation at 0- and 20-ms intervals. The maximum sizes of the M wave (M(max)) and H reflex (H(max)) were also measured. After a long-lasting maximum voluntary handgrip contraction (mean ± SEM: 3.9 ± 0.6 min) of ipsilateral forearm muscles, M(max) and H(max) were unchanged but RI was diminished. After contraction of the contralateral homologous muscles and after contraction elicited by ipsilateral muscle stimulation, RI remained unchanged. These results show that a preceding maximum voluntary contraction (lasting 30 s or more) reduces the activity of the spinal inhibitory interneurons mediating RI. This finding may imply the need to reinterpret results from RI studies in normal subjects and in patients with movement disorders. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1343
Number of pages9
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • H reflex
  • Muscle contraction
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Postcontraction effects
  • Reciprocal inhibition
  • Spinal inhibitory interneurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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