1. This study examined the relation between electromyographic (EMG) activation and the contact force and joint torques of the left hindlimb during postural equilibrium tasks in the standing cat. It is the appropriate application of force by the limbs against the support surface that allows the animal to control its center of mass and maintain equilibrium. 2. Cats were trained to stand quietly on a moveable force platform. During quiet stance, the cat was perturbed by a platform translation in each of 12 directions evenly spaced in the horizontal plane. EMG activity of mono- and biarticular thigh muscles, three-dimensional ground reaction force under the paw (contact force), and kinematics of the hindlimb segments were recorded Net joint torques were computed using inverse dynamics. The analysis focused on the functional organization of the rapid, automatic postural response in relation to the sagittal plane contact force and joint torques. 3. The muscles of the thigh were subdivided into two functional groups, based on the relationship of the evoked response to the various components of the sagittal plane contact force or joint torques. The first group, consisting of the monoarticular and some biarticular muscles, was correlated with the vertical force component, Fz. The second group, consisting of a separate group of biarticular muscles, was correlated with the difference between knee and hip torque. This torque difference is a function of both sagittal plane force components, Fz and Fy, and is related to contact force direction. 4. It is suggested that this subdivision of muscle activations reflects a neural strategy of parallel control of the two muscle groups in relation to their influence on Fz and Fy. Such a control mechanism could be a strategy for simplifying the control of the multisegmented limb in contact force tasks such as maintaining postural equilibrium.
- Copyright © 1996 the American Physiological Society