Imperial College London

Dr Alessandro Del Vecchio

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Bioengineering

Visiting Researcher
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)7516 143 524a.del-vecchio

 
 
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Location

 

B121Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

52 results found

Bracklein M, Barsakcioglu DY, Del Vecchio A, Ibanez J, Farina Det al., 2022, Reading and modulating cortical beta bursts from motor unit spiking activity, JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Vol: 42, ISSN: 0270-6474

Journal article

Nuessel M, Zhao Y, Knorr C, Regensburger M, Stadlbauer A, Buchfelder M, del Vecchio A, Kinfe Tet al., 2022, Deep Brain Stimulation, Stereotactic Radiosurgery and High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Targeting the Limbic Pain Matrix: A Comprehensive Review, PAIN AND THERAPY, Vol: 11, Pages: 459-476, ISSN: 2193-8237

Journal article

Baker AME, Maffitt NJ, Del Vecchio A, McKeating KM, Baker MR, Baker SN, Soteropoulos DSet al., 2022, Neural Dysregulation in Post-COVID Fatigue

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Following infection from SARS-CoV-2, a substantial minority of people develop lingering after-effects known as ‘long COVID’. Fatigue is a common complaint with substantial impact on daily life, but the neural mechanisms behind post-COVID fatigue remain unclear.</jats:p><jats:p>We recruited 37 volunteers with self-reported fatigue after a mild COVID infection and carried out a battery of behavioural and neurophysiological tests assessing the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous systems.</jats:p><jats:p>In comparison to age and sex matched volunteers without fatigue (n=52), we show underactivity in specific cortical circuits, dysregulation of autonomic function, and myopathic change in skeletal muscle. Cluster analysis revealed no sub-groupings, suggesting post-COVID fatigue is a single entity with individual variation, rather than a small number of distinct syndromes. Based on our analysis we were also able to exclude dysregulation in sensory feedback circuits and descending neuromodulatory control.</jats:p><jats:p>These abnormalities on objective tests may indicate novel avenues for principled therapeutic intervention, and could act as fast and reliable biomarkers for diagnosing and monitoring the progression of fatigue over time.</jats:p>

Journal article

Alix-Fages C, Del Vecchio A, Baz-Valle E, Santos-Concejero J, Balsalobre-Fernandez Cet al., 2022, The role of the neural stimulus in regulating skeletal muscle hypertrophy, EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY, Vol: 122, Pages: 1111-1128, ISSN: 1439-6319

Journal article

de Oliveira DS, Casolo A, Balshaw TG, Maeo S, Lanza MB, Martin NRW, Maffulli N, Kinfe TM, Eskofier B, Folland JP, Farina D, Del Vecchio Aet al., 2022, Neural decoding from surface high-density EMG signals: influence of anatomy and synchronization on the number of identified motor units

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Objective</jats:title><jats:p>High-density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG) allows the reliable identification of individual motor unit (MU) action potentials. Despite the accuracy in decomposition, there is a large variability in the number of identified MUs across individuals and exerted forces. Here we present a systematic investigation of the anatomical and neural factors that determine this variability.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Approach</jats:title><jats:p>We investigated factors of influence on HD-sEMG decomposition, such as synchronization of MU discharges, distribution of MU territories, muscle-electrode distance (MED - subcutaneous fat thickness), maximum anatomical cross-sectional area (ACSA<jats:sub>max</jats:sub>), and fiber CSA. For this purpose, we recorded HD-sEMG signals, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and muscle biopsy of the biceps brachii muscle from two groups of participants – untrained-controls (UT=14) and strength-trained (&gt;3 years of training, ST=16) – while they performed isometric ramp contractions with elbow flexors (at 15, 35, 50 and 70% maximum voluntary torque - MVT). We assessed the correlation between the number of accurately detected MUs by HD-sEMG decomposition and each measured parameter, for each target force level. Multiple regression analysis was then applied.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Main results</jats:title><jats:p>ST subjects showed lower MED (UT: 4.8 ± 1.4 vs. ST: 3.7 ± 0.8 mm) associated to a greater number of identified motor units (UT: 21.3 ± 10.2 vs. ST: 29.2 ± 11.8 MUs/subject). Both groups showed a negative correlation between MED and the number of identified MUs at low forces (r= −0.6, p=0.002 at 15% MVT). Moreover, the number of identified MUs was pos

Journal article

Škarabot J, Folland JP, Holobar A, Baker SN, Del Vecchio Aet al., 2022, Reticulospinal drive increases maximal motoneuron output in humans

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Maximal rate of force development in adult humans is determined by the maximal motoneuron output, however the origin of the underlying synaptic inputs remains unclear. Here, we tested a hypothesis that the maximal motoneuron output will increase in response to a startling cue, a stimulus that purportedly activates the pontomedullary reticular formation neurons that make mono- and disynaptic connections to motoneurons via fast-conducting axons. Twenty-two men were required to produce isometric knee extensor forces “as fast and as hard” as possible from rest to 75% of maximal voluntary force, in response to visual (VC), visual-auditory (VAC), or visual-startling cue (VSC). Motoneuron activity was estimated via decomposition of high-density surface electromyogram recordings over the vastus lateralis and medialis muscles. Reaction time was significantly shorter in response to VSC compared to VAC and VC (i.e., the StartReact effect). The VSC further elicited faster neuromechanical responses including a greater number of discharges per motor unit per second and greater maximal rate of force development, with no differences between VAC and VC. We provide evidence, for the first time, that the synaptic input to motoneurons increases in response to a startling cue, suggesting a contribution of subcortical pathways to maximal motoneuron output in humans, likely originating from the pontomedullary reticular formation.</jats:p>

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Germer C, Kinfe TM, Nuccio S, Hug F, Eskofier B, Farina D, Enoka RMet al., 2022, Common synaptic inputs are not distributed homogeneously among the motor neurons that innervate synergistic muscles

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>The force generated by the muscles involved in an action is produced by common synaptic inputs received by the engaged motor neurons. The purpose of our study was to identify the low-dimensional latent components, defined hereafter as <jats:italic>neural modules</jats:italic>, underlying the discharge rates of the motor units from two knee extensors (vastus medialis and lateralis) and two hand muscles (index and thumb muscles) during isometric contractions. The neural modules were extracted by factor analysis from the pooled motor units and no assumptions were made regarding the orthogonality of the modules or the association between the modules and each muscle. Factor analysis identified two independent neural modules that captured most of the covariance in the discharge rates of the motor units in the synergistic muscles. Although the neural modules were strongly correlated with the discharge rates of motor units in each of the synergistic pair of muscles, not all motor units in a muscle were correlated with the neural module for that muscle. The distribution of motor units across the pair of neural modules differed for each muscle: 80% of the motor units in first dorsal interosseous were more strongly correlated with the neural module for that muscle, whereas the proportion was 70%, 60%, and 45% for the thenar, vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis muscles. All other motor units either belonged to both modules or to the module for the other muscle (15% for vastus lateralis). Based on a simulation of 480 integrate-and-fire neurons receiving independent and common inputs, we demonstrate that factor analysis identifies the three neural modules with high levels of accuracy. Our results indicate that the correlated discharge rates of motor units arise from at least two sources of common synaptic input that are not distributed homogeneously among the motor neurons innervating synergistic muscles.<

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Dideriksen JL, Aagaard P, Felici F, Falla D, Farina Det al., 2022, Lack of increased rate of force development after strength training is explained by specific neural, not muscular, motor unit adaptations, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY, Vol: 132, Pages: 84-94, ISSN: 8750-7587

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Jones RHA, Schofield IS, Kinfe TM, Ibáñez J, Farina D, Baker SNet al., 2021, Interfacing Spinal Motor Units in Non-Human Primates Identifies a Principal Neural Component for Force Control Constrained by the Size Principle

<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title><jats:p>Motor units convert the last neural code of movement into muscle forces. The classic view of motor unit control is that the central nervous system sends common synaptic inputs to motoneuron pools and that motoneurons respond in an orderly fashion dictated by the size principle. This view however is in contrast with the large number of dimensions observed in motor cortex which may allow individual and flexible control of motor units. Evidence for flexible control of motor units may be obtained by tracking motor units longitudinally during the performance of tasks with some level of behavioural variability. Here we identified and tracked populations of motor units in the brachioradialis muscle of two macaque monkeys during ten sessions spanning over one month during high force isometric contractions with a broad range of rate of force development (1.8 – 38.6 N·m·s<jats:sup>-1</jats:sup>). During the same sessions we recorded intramuscular EMG signals from 16 arm muscles of both limbs and elicited the full recruitment through neural stimulation of the median and deep radial nerves. We found a very stable recruitment order and discharge characteristics of the motor units over sessions and contraction trials. The small deviations from orderly recruitment were observed between motor units with close recruitment thresholds, and only during high rate of force development. Moreover, we also found that one component explained more than ~50% of the motor unit discharge rate variance, and that the remaining components could be described as a time-shifted version of the first, as it could be predicted from the interplay between the size principle of recruitment and one common input. In conclusion, our results show that motoneurons recruitment is determined by the interplay of the size principle and common input and that this recruitment scheme is not violated over time nor by the speed of

Journal article

Ting JE, Del Vecchio A, Sarma D, Verma N, Colachis SC, Annetta N, Collinger JL, Farina D, Weber DJet al., 2021, Sensing and decoding the neural drive to paralyzed muscles during attempted movements of a person with tetraplegia using a sleeve array, JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY, Vol: 126, Pages: 2104-2118, ISSN: 0022-3077

Journal article

Casolo A, Del Vecchio A, Balshaw TG, Maeo S, Lanza MB, Felici F, Folland JP, Farina Det al., 2021, Behavior of motor units during submaximal isometric contractions in chronically strength-trained individuals, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY, Vol: 131, Pages: 1584-1598, ISSN: 8750-7587

Journal article

Schrader B, Schrader J, Vaske B, Elsaesser A, Haller H, del Vecchio A, Koziolek M, Gehlenborg E, Lueders Set al., 2021, Football beats hypertension: results of the 3F (Fit&Fun with Football) study, JOURNAL OF HYPERTENSION, Vol: 39, Pages: 2290-2296, ISSN: 0263-6352

Journal article

Nuccio S, Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Labanca L, Rocchi JE, Felici F, Macaluso A, Mariani PP, Falla D, Farina D, Sbriccoli Pet al., 2021, Deficit in knee extension strength following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is explained by a reduced neural drive to the vasti muscles, JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY-LONDON, Vol: 599, Pages: 5103-5120, ISSN: 0022-3751

Journal article

Hug F, Avrillon S, Sarcher A, Del Vecchio A, Farina Det al., 2021, Networks of common inputs to motor neurons of the lower limb reveal neural synergies that only partly overlap with muscle innervation

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Movements are reportedly controlled through the combination of synergies that generate specific motor outputs by imposing an activation pattern on a group of muscles. To date, the smallest unit of analysis has been the muscle. In this human study, we decoded the spiking activities of spinal motor neurons innervating six lower limb muscles during an isometric multi-joint task. We identified their common low-frequency components, from which networks of common synaptic inputs to the motor neurons were derived. The vast majority of the identified motor neurons shared common inputs with other motor neuron(s). In addition, groups of motor neurons were partly decoupled from their innervated muscle, such that motor neurons innervating the same muscle did not necessarily receive common inputs. Conversely, some motor neurons from different muscles – including distant muscles – received common inputs. Our results provide evidence of a synergistic control of a multi-joint motor task at the spinal motor-neuron level.</jats:p><jats:sec><jats:title>Teaser</jats:title><jats:p>The generation of movement involves the activation of many spinal motor neurons from multiple muscles. A central and unresolved question is how these motor neurons are controlled to allow flexibility for adaptation to various mechanical constraints. Since the computational load of controlling each motor neuron independently would be extremely large, the central nervous system presumably adopts dimensionality reduction. We identified networks of functional connectivity between spinal motor neurons based on the common synaptic inputs they receive during a multi-joint task. Our findings revealed functional groupings of motor neurons in a low dimensional space. These groups did not necessarily overlap with the muscle anatomy. We provide a new neural framework for a deeper understanding of movement control in health

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Castellini C, Beckerle P, 2021, Peripheral Neuroergonomics - An Elegant Way to Improve Human-Robot Interaction?, FRONTIERS IN NEUROROBOTICS, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1662-5218

Journal article

Germer CM, Farina D, Elias LA, Nuccio S, Hug F, Del Vecchio Aet al., 2021, Surface EMG crosstalk quantified at the motor unit population level for muscles of the hand, thigh, and calf, Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol: 131, Pages: 808-820, ISSN: 1522-1601

Crosstalk is an important source of error in interpreting surface electromyography (EMG) signals. Here, we aimed at characterizing crosstalk for three groups of synergistic muscles by the identification of individual motor unit action potentials. Moreover, we explored whether spatial filtering (single and double differential) of the EMG signals influences the level of crosstalk. Three experiments were conducted. Participants (total twenty-five) performed isometric contractions at 10% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) with digit muscles and knee extensors, and at 30% MVC with plantar flexors. High-density surface EMG signals were recorded and decomposed into motor unit spike trains. For each muscle, we quantified the crosstalk induced to neighboring muscles and the level of contamination by the nearby muscle activity. We also estimated the influence of crosstalk on the EMG power spectrum and intermuscular correlation. Most motor units (80%) generated significant crosstalk signals to neighboring muscle EMG in monopolar recording mode, but this proportion decreased with spatial filtering (50% and 42% for single and double differential, respectively). Crosstalk induced overestimations of intermuscular correlation and has a small effect on the EMG power spectrum, which indicates that crosstalk is not reduced with high-pass temporal filtering. Conversely, spatial filtering diminished the crosstalk magnitude and the overestimations of intermuscular correlation, confirming to be an effective and simple technique to reduce crosstalk. This paper presents a new method for the identification and quantification of crosstalk at the motor unit level and clarifies the influence of crosstalk on EMG interpretation for muscles with different anatomy.

Journal article

Hug F, Avrillon S, Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Ibanez J, Nuccio S, Rossato J, Holobar A, Farina Det al., 2021, Analysis of motor unit spike trains estimated from high-density surface electromyography is highly reliable across operators, Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, Vol: 58, Pages: 102548-102548, ISSN: 1050-6411

There is a growing interest in decomposing high-density surface electromyography (HDsEMG) into motor unit spike trains to improve knowledge on the neural control of muscle contraction. However, the reliability of decomposition approaches is sometimes questioned, especially because they require manual editing of the outputs. We aimed to assess the inter-operator reliability of the identification of motor unit spike trains. Eight operators with varying experience in HDsEMG decomposition were provided with the same data extracted using the convolutive kernel compensation method. They were asked to manually edit them following established procedures. Data included signals from three lower leg muscles and different submaximal intensities. After manual analysis, 126 ± 5 motor units were retained (range across operators: 119-134). A total of 3380 rate of agreement values were calculated (28 pairwise comparisons × 11 contractions/muscles × 4-28 motor units). The median rate of agreement value was 99.6%. Inter-operator reliability was excellent for both mean discharge rate and time at recruitment (intraclass correlation coefficient > 0.99). These results show that when provided with the same decomposed data and the same basic instructions, operators converge toward almost identical results. Our data have been made available so that they can be used for training new operators.

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Dideriksen J, Aagaard P, Felici F, Falla D, Farina Det al., 2021, Why humans are stronger but not faster after isometric strength training: specific neural, not muscular, motor unit adaptations

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>While maximal force increases following short-term isometric strength training, the rate of force development (RFD) may remain relatively unaffected. The underlying neural and muscular mechanisms during rapid contractions after strength training are largely unknown. Since strength training increases the neural drive to muscles, it may be hypothesized that there are distinct neural or muscular adaptations determining the change in RFD independently of an increase in maximal force. Therefore, we examined motor unit population data during the rapid generation of force before and after four weeks of strength training. We observed that strength training did not change the RFD because it did not influence the number of motor units recruited per second or their initial discharge rate during rapid contractions. While strength training did not change motoneuron behaviour in the force increase phase of rapid contractions, it increased the discharge rate of motoneurons (by ∼4 spikes/s) when reaching the plateau phase (∼150 ms) of the rapid contractions, determining an increase in maximal force production. Computer simulations with a motor unit model that included neural and muscular properties, closely matched the experimental observations and demonstrated that the lack of change in RFD following training is primarily mediated by an unchanged maximal recruitment speed of motoneurons. These results demonstrate that maximal force and contraction speed are determined by different adaptations in motoneuron behaviour following strength training and indicate that increases in the recruitment speed of motoneurons are required to evoke training-induced increases in RFD.</jats:p>

Journal article

Ting JE, Vecchio AD, Sarma D, Colachis SC, Annetta NV, Collinger JL, Farina D, Weber DJet al., 2021, Sensing and decoding the neural drive to paralyzed muscles during attempted movements of a person with tetraplegia using a sleeve array

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>Motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord convey information about motor intent that can be extracted and interpreted to control assistive devices, such as computers, wheelchairs, and robotic manipulators. However, most methods for measuring the firing activity of single neurons rely on implanted microelectrodes. Although intracortical brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have been shown to be safe and effective, the requirement for surgery poses a barrier to widespread use. Here, we demonstrate that a wearable sensor array can detect residual motor unit activity in paralyzed muscles after severe cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). Despite generating no observable hand movement, volitional recruitment of motor neurons below the level of injury was observed across attempted movements of individual fingers and overt wrist and elbow movements. Subgroups of motor units were coactive during flexion or extension phases of the task. Single digit movement intentions were classified offline from the EMG power (RMS) or motor unit firing rates with median classification accuracies &gt;75% in both cases. Simulated online control of a virtual hand was performed with a binary classifier to test feasibility of real time extraction and decoding of motor units. The online decomposition algorithm extracted motor units in 1.2 ms, and the firing rates predicted the correct digit motion 88 ± 24% of the time. This study provides the first demonstration of a wearable interface for recording and decoding firing rates of motor neurons below the level of injury in a person with tetraplegia after motor complete SCI.</jats:p><jats:sec><jats:title>Significance Statement</jats:title><jats:p>A wearable electrode array and machine learning methods were used to record and decode myoelectric signals and motor unit firing in paralyzed muscles of a person with motor complete tetraplegia. Motor unit action p

Journal article

Hug F, Avrillon S, Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Ibanez J, Nuccio S, Rossato J, Holobar A, Farina Det al., 2021, Analysis of motor unit spike trains estimated from high-density surface electromyography is highly reliable across operators, Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>There is a growing interest in decomposing high-density surface electromyography (HDsEMG) into motor unit spike trains to improve knowledge on the neural control of muscle contraction. However, the reliability of decomposition approaches is sometimes questioned, especially because they require manual editing of the outputs. We aimed to assess the inter-operator reliability of the identification of motor unit spike trains. Eight operators with varying experience in HDsEMG decomposition were provided with the same data extracted using the convolutive kernel compensation method. They were asked to manually edit them following established procedures. Data included signals from three lower leg muscles and different submaximal intensities. After manual analysis, 126 ± 5 motor units were retained (range across operators: 119-134). A total of 3380 rate of agreement values were calculated (28 pairwise comparisons × 11 contractions/muscles × 4-28 motor units). The median rate of agreement value was 99.6%. Inter-operator reliability was excellent for both mean discharge rate and time at recruitment (intraclass correlation coefficient &gt; 0.99). These results show that when provided with the same decomposed data and the same basic instructions, operators converge toward almost identical results. Our data have been made available so that they can be used for training new operators.</jats:p>

Working paper

Hug F, Del Vecchio A, Avrillon S, Farina D, Tucker Ket al., 2021, Muscles from the same muscle group do not necessarily share common drive: evidence from the human triceps surae., Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), Vol: 130, Pages: 342-354, ISSN: 1522-1601

It has been proposed that movements are produced through groups of muscles, or motor modules, activated by common neural commands. However, the neural origin of motor modules is still debated. Here, we used complementary approaches to determine: 1) whether three muscles of the same muscle group [soleus, gastrocnemius medialis (GM), and gastrocnemius lateralis (GL)] are activated by a common neural drive, and 2) whether the neural drive to GM and GL could be differentially modified by altering the mechanical requirements of the task. Eighteen human participants performed an isometric standing heel raise and submaximal isometric plantarflexions (10%, 30%, and 50% of maximal effort). High-density surface electromyography recordings were decomposed into motor unit action potentials and coherence analysis was applied on the motor unit spike trains. We identified strong common drive to each muscle but minimal common drive between the muscles. Further, large between-muscle differences were observed during the isometric plantarflexions, such as a delayed recruitment time of GL compared with GM and soleus motor units and opposite time-dependent changes in the estimates of neural drive to muscles during the torque plateau. Finally, the feet position adopted during the heel-raise task (neutral vs. internally rotated) affected only the GL neural drive with no change for GM. These results provide conclusive evidence that not all anatomically defined synergist muscles are controlled by strong common neural drive. Independent drive to some muscles from the same muscle group may allow for more flexible control to comply with secondary goals such as joint stabilization.NEW & NOTEWORTHY In this study, we demonstrated that the three muscles composing the human triceps surae share minimal common drive during isometric contractions. Our results suggest that reducing the number of effectively controlled degrees of freedom may not always be the strategy used by the central nervous sys

Journal article

Clarke AK, Atashzar SF, Vecchio AD, Barsakcioglu D, Muceli S, Bentley P, Urh F, Holobar A, Farina Det al., 2021, Deep learning for robust decomposition of high-density surface EMG signals, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, Vol: 68, Pages: 526-534, ISSN: 0018-9294

Blind source separation (BSS) algorithms, such as gradient convolution kernel compensation (gCKC), can efficiently and accurately decompose high-density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG) signals into constituent motor unit (MU) action potential trains. Once the separation matrix is blindly estimated on a signal interval, it is also possible to apply the same matrix to subsequent signal segments. Nonetheless, the trained separation matrices are sub-optimal in noisy conditions and require that incoming data undergo computationally expensive whitening. One unexplored alternative is to instead use the paired HD-sEMG signal and BSS output to train a model to predict MU activations within a supervised learning framework. A gated recurrent unit (GRU) network was trained to decompose both simulated and experimental unwhitened HD-sEMG signal using the output of the gCKC algorithm. The results on the experimental data were validated by comparison with the decomposition of concurrently recorded intramuscular EMG signals. The GRU network outperformed gCKC at low signal-to-noise ratios, proving superior performance in generalising to new data. Using 12 seconds of experimental data per recording, the GRU performed similarly to gCKC, at rates of agreement of 92.5% (84.5%-97.5%) and 94.9% (88.8%-100.0%) respectively for GRU and gCKC against matched intramuscular sources.

Journal article

Avrillon S, Del Vecchio A, Farina D, Pons JL, Vogel C, Umehara J, Hug Fet al., 2021, Individual differences in the neural strategies to control the lateral and medial head of the quadriceps during a mechanically constrained task., Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), Vol: 130, Pages: 269-281, ISSN: 1522-1601

The interindividual variability in the neural drive sent from the spinal cord to muscles is largely unknown, even during highly constrained motor tasks. Here, we investigated individual differences in the strength of neural drive received by the vastus lateralis (VL) and vastus medialis (VM) during an isometric task. We also assessed the proportion of common neural drive within and between these muscles. Twenty-two participants performed a series of submaximal isometric knee extensions at 25% of their peak torque. High-density surface electromyography recordings were decomposed into motor unit action potentials. Coherence analyses were applied on the motor unit spike trains to assess the degree of neural drive that was shared between motor neurons. Six participants were retested ∼20 mo after the first session. The distribution of the strength of neural drive between VL and VM varied between participants and was correlated with the distribution of normalized interference electromyography (EMG) signals (r > 0.56). The level of within- and between-muscle coherence varied across individuals, with a significant positive correlation between these two outcomes (VL: r = 0.48; VM: r = 0.58). We also observed a large interindividual variability in the proportion of muscle-specific drive, that is, the drive unique to each muscle (VL range: 6%-83%, VM range: 6%-86%). All the outcome measures were robust across sessions, providing evidence that the individual differences did not depend solely on the variability of the measures. Together, these results demonstrate that the neural strategies to control the VL and VM muscles widely vary across individuals, even during a constrained task.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We observed that the distribution of the strength of neural drive between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis during a single-joint isometric task varied across participants. Also, we observed that the proportion of ne

Journal article

Skarabot J, Brownstein CG, Casolo A, Del Vecchio A, Ansdell Pet al., 2020, The knowns and unknowns of neural adaptations to resistance training, EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY, Vol: 121, Pages: 675-685, ISSN: 1439-6319

Journal article

Felici F, Del Vecchio A, 2020, Surface Electromyography: What Limits Its Use in Exercise and Sport Physiology?, FRONTIERS IN NEUROLOGY, Vol: 11, ISSN: 1664-2295

Journal article

Del Vecchio A, Sylos-Labini F, Mondi V, Paolillo P, Ivanenko Y, Lacquaniti F, Farina Det al., 2020, Spinal motoneurons of the human newborn are highly synchronized during leg movements, SCIENCE ADVANCES, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2375-2548

Journal article

Nuccio S, Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Labanca L, Rocchi JE, Felici F, Macaluso A, Mariani PP, Falla D, Farina D, Sbriccoli Pet al., 2020, Muscle fiber conduction velocity in the vastus lateralis and medialis muscles of soccer players after ACL reconstruction, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Vol: 30, Pages: 1976-1984, ISSN: 0905-7188

The neural factors underlying the persistency of quadriceps weakness after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) have been only partially explained. This study examined muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) as an indirect parameter of motor unit recruitment strategies in the vastus lateralis (VL) and medialis (VM) muscles of soccer players with ACLR. High‐density surface electromyography (HDsEMG) was acquired from VL and VM in nine soccer players (22.7 ± 2.9 years; BMI: 22.08 ± 1.72 kg·m−2; 7.7 ± 2.2 months post‐surgery). Voluntary muscle force and the relative myoelectrical activity from the reconstructed and contralateral sides were recorded during linearly increasing isometric knee extension contractions up to 70% of maximal voluntary isometric force (MVIF). The relation of MFCV and force was examined by linear regression analysis at the individual subject level. The initial (intercept), peak (MFCV70), and rate of change (slope) of MFCV related to force were compared between limbs and muscles. The MVIF was lower in the reconstructed side than in the contralateral side (−%20.5; P < .05). MFCV intercept was similar among limbs and muscles (P > .05). MFCV70 and MFCV slope were lower in the reconstructed side compared to the contralateral for both VL (−28.5% and −10.1%, respectively; P < .001) and VM (−22.6% and −8.1%, respectively; P < .001). The slope of MFCV was lower in the VL than VM, but only in the reconstructed side (−12.4%; P < .001). These results suggest possible impairments in recruitment strategies of high‐threshold motor units (HTMUs) as well as deficits in sarcolemmal excitability, fiber diameter, and discharge rate of knee extensor muscles following ACLR.

Journal article

Tanzarella S, Muceli S, Del Vecchio A, Casolo A, Farina Det al., 2020, Non-invasive analysis of motor neurons controlling the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand, Journal of Neural Engineering, Vol: 17, ISSN: 1741-2552

OBJECTIVE: We present a non-invasive framework for investigating efferent commands to 14 extrinsic and intrinsic hand muscles. We extend previous studies (limited to a few muscles) on common synaptic input among pools of motor neurons in a large number of muscles. APPROACH: Seven subjects performed sinusoidal isometric contractions to complete seven types of grasps, with each finger and with three combinations of fingers in opposition with the thumb. High-density surface EMG (HD-sEMG) signals (384 channels in total) recorded from the 14 muscles were decomposed into the constituent motor unit action potentials. This provided a non-invasive framework for the investigation of motor neuron discharge patterns, muscle coordination and efferent commands of the hand muscles during grasping. Moreover, during grasping tasks, it was possible to identify common neural information among pools of motor neurons innervating the investigated muscles. For this purpose, principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to the smoothed discharge rates of the decoded motor units. MAIN RESULTS: We found that the first principal component (PC1) of the ensemble of decoded motor neuron spike trains explained a variance of (53.8 ± 10.5) % and was positively correlated with force (R=0.67 ± 0.01 across all subjects and tasks). By grouping the pools of motor neurons from extrinsic or intrinsic muscles, the PC1 explained a proportion of variance of (57.3 ± 10.8) % and (57.9 ± 11.8) %, respectively, and was correlated with force with R=0.61 ± 0.13 and 0.64 ± 0.12, respectively. SIGNIFICANCE: These observations demonstrate a low dimensional control of motor neurons across multiple muscles that can be exploited for extracting control signals in neural interfacing. The proposed framework was designed for hand rehabilitation perspectives, such as post-stroke rehabilitation and hand-exoskeleton control.

Journal article

Casolo A, Nuccio S, Bazzucchi I, Felici F, Del Vecchio Aet al., 2020, Reproducibility of muscle fibre conduction velocity during linearly increasing force contractions, JOURNAL OF ELECTROMYOGRAPHY AND KINESIOLOGY, Vol: 53, ISSN: 1050-6411

Journal article

Casolo A, Farina D, Falla D, Bazzucchi I, Felici F, Del Vecchio Aet al., 2020, Strength training Increases conduction velocity of high-threshold motor units., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol: 52, Pages: 955-967, ISSN: 0195-9131

PURPOSE: Motor unit conduction velocity (MUCV) represents the propagation velocity of action potentials along the muscle fibres innervated by individual motor neurons and indirectly reflects the electrophysiological properties of the sarcolemma. In this study, we investigated the effect of a 4-week strength training intervention on the peripheral properties (MUCV and motor unit action potential amplitude, RMSMU) of populations of longitudinally tracked motor units (MUs). METHODS: The adjustments exhibited by 12 individuals who participated in the training (INT) were compared with 12 controls (CON). Strength training involved ballistic (4x10) and sustained (3x10) isometric ankle dorsi flexions. Measurement sessions involved the recordings of maximal voluntary isometric force (MViF) and submaximal isometric ramp contractions, while high-density surface EMG (HDsEMG) was recorded from the tibialis anterior. HDsEMG signals were decomposed into individual MU discharge timings and MUs were tracked across the intervention. RESULTS: MViF (+14.1%, P=0.003) and average MUCV (+3.00%, P=0.028) increased in the INT group, while normalized MUs recruitment threshold (RT) decreased (-14.9%, P=0.001). The slope (rate of change) of the regression between MUCV and MUs RT increased only in the INT group (+32.6%, P=0.028), indicating a progressive greater increase in MUCV for higher-threshold MUs. The intercept (initial value) of MUCV did not change following the intervention (P=0.568). The association between RMSMU and MUs RT was not altered by the training. CONCLUSION: The increase in the rate of change in MUCV as a function of MU recruitment threshold, but not the initial value of MUCV, suggests that short-term strength training elicits specific adaptations in the electrophysiological properties of the muscle fibre membrane in high-threshold motor units.

Journal article

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