Cutaneous reflexes have been described primarily according to their actions in the flexion/extension plane. It is shown here, by measuring electromyography and isometric force in decerebrate cats, that ankle muscles are activated in relation to their actions in the abduction/adduction plane during sural nerve (SNR) and crossed-extension (XER) reflexes. Ankle adductors (tibialis posterior, extensor digitorum longus, and flexors digitorum and hallucis longus) were active in XER, but not in SNR. Muscles producing ankle abduction (medial and lateral gastrocnemii and peroneus longus and brevis) were often activated in both reflexes, and medial gastrocnemius and peroneus longus were consistently more strongly activated in SNR than in XER. This differential pattern of muscle activation results in greater abduction torque at the ankle in SNR than in XER. These data demonstrate reflex organization in relation to the multidirectional torque generated by individual muscles.
The authors are with the Department of Physiology, 1648 Pierce Dr., Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.