Best answer: How does muscle size affect the size of a motor unit?

The number of muscle fibers within each unit can vary within a particular muscle and even more from muscle to muscle; the muscles that act on the largest body masses have motor units that contain more muscle fibers, whereas smaller muscles contain fewer muscle fibers in each motor unit.

What is the relationship between muscle function and motor unit size?

Motor Units

The number of muscle fibers within a motor unit varies, and is a function of the muscle’s ability for accurate and refined motion. Precision is inversely proportional to the size of the motor unit. Thus, small motor units can exercise greater precision of movement compared to larger motor units.

What determines the size of a motor unit?

The higher the recruitment the stronger the muscle contraction will be. Motor units are generally recruited in order of smallest to largest (smallest motor neurons to largest motor neurons, and thus slow to fast twitch) as contraction increases. This is known as Henneman’s size principle.

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Why do motor units vary in size?

When a motor neuron fires, all the muscle fibers in the motor unit contract at once. The size of a motor unit varies from just a few fibers in the eye muscles (precise movements) to over a thousand fibers in the large leg muscles (powerful movements).

How does the size of a motor unit relate to the force it generates?

You can generate more force when you have bigger, stronger muscles.

How many motor units are in a muscle?

Motor units are organized slightly differently in invertebrates; each muscle has few motor units (typically less than 10), and each muscle fiber is innervated by multiple neurons, including excitatory and inhibitory neurons.

Which muscle has the largest motor units?

The best example is the large motor units of the thigh muscles or back muscles, where a single motor neuron will supply thousands of muscle fibers in a muscle, as its axon splits into thousands of branches.

Are all motor units the same size?

Both motor units and the α motor neurons themselves vary in size. Small α motor neurons innervate relatively few muscle fibers and form motor units that generate small forces, whereas large motor neurons innervate larger, more powerful motor units.

What is the size principle of muscle contraction?

The size principle states that motor units will be recruited in order of size from smallest to largest depending upon the intensity. When considering the various properties of the motor units this makes sense. The small units don?t produce much force, they are slow to act, and they are resistant to fatigue.

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Which muscles would have small motor units?

The smallest motor units are in muscles that must produce very fine gradations of force:

  • lumbricals: 100 fibers/unit.
  • eye muscles: 5 fibers/unit.

Why do some motor units only have a few muscle cells?

By stimulating both motor units to contract at once (recruitment), enough energy is provided to have the weight hit the bell. Motor units which contain only a few muscle cells allow for precise muscle movements.

Is it possible to increase motor unit recruitment with exercise?

Motor Unit Recruitment. Motor unit recruitment depends on the force/resistance of the exercise. With light intensity exercise the Type I (slow twitch) motor units are recruited. When the load is increased, the Type IIa (fast twitch) will be recruited with the help of the Type I fibers.

How can you increase the strength of muscle contraction?

The central nervous system can increase the strength of muscle contraction by the following:

  1. Increasing the number of active motor units (ie, spatial recruitment)
  2. Increasing the firing rate (firing frequency) at which individual motor units fire to optimize the summated tension generated (ie, temporal recruitment)


What is the purpose of a motor unit?

Key Points

A motor unit, the functional unit of muscle contraction, is a single motor nerve and the associated muscle fibers that are innervated upon stimulation from the nerve. A collection of motor units is referred to as a motor pool.

What type of muscle fibers is highly resistant to fatigue?

Slow-twitch muscle fibers are fatigue resistant, and focused on sustained, smaller movements and postural control. They contain more mitochondria and myoglobin, and are aerobic in nature compared to fast-twitch fibers. Slow-twitch fibers are also sometimes called type I or red fibers because of their blood supply.

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How does a motor unit function?

Motor units, defined as a motoneuron and all of its associated muscle fibers, are the basic functional units of skeletal muscle. Their activity represents the final output of the central nervous system, and their role in motor control has been widely studied.