Morris LG, Hooper SL (1998) Muscle response to changing neuronal input in the lobster (Panulirus interruptus) stomatogastric system: slow muscle properties can transform rhythmic input into tonic output. J Neurosci 18:3433-3442.
Slow, non-twitch muscles are widespread in lower vertebrates and invertebrates and are often assumed to be primarily involved in posture or slow motor patterns. However, in several preparations, including some well known invertebrate "model" preparations, slow muscles are driven by rapid, rhythmic inputs. The response of slow muscles to such inputs is little understood. We are investigating this issue with a slow stomatogastric muscle (cpv1b) driven by a relatively rapid, rhythmic neural pattern. A simple model suggests that as cycle period decreases, slow muscle contractions show increasing intercontraction temporal summation and at steady state consist of phasic contractions overlying a tonic contracture. We identify five components of these contractions: total, average, tonic, and phasic amplitudes, and percent phasic (phasic amplitude divided by total amplitude). cpv1b muscle contractions induced by spontaneous rhythmic neural input in vitro consist of phasic and tonic components. Nerve stimulation at varying cycle periods and constant duty cycle shows that a tonic component is always present, and at short periods the muscle transforms rhythmic input into almost completely tonic output. Varying spike frequency, spike number, and cycle period show that frequency codes total, average, and tonic amplitudes, number codes phasic amplitude, and period codes percent phasic. These data suggest that tonic contraction may be a property of slow muscles driven by rapid, rhythmic input, and in these cases it is necessary to identify the various contraction components and their neural coding. Furthermore, the parameters that code these components are interdependent, and control of slow muscle contraction is thus likely complex.