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Keywords:

  • digastric;
  • EMG;
  • masseter;
  • motor control;
  • telemetry

Abstract

Muscle activity has predominantly been studied for specific motor tasks not necessarily representative of normal daily behaviour. The few studies that have examined daily muscle use have quantified this by duty time, merging all levels of muscle activity. Muscle activity can also be characterized by the number, duration and level of bursts. The purpose of this study was to characterize, for various levels of muscle activity, the daily masseter and digastric actions in the rabbit. Characterization was realized by quantification of duty time (summed length of all bursts as a percentage of total time), number of bursts and distribution of burst lengths. A telemetric device was implanted in the two muscles of six rabbits, ensuring the recording of their jaw muscle activities while they moved freely. The continuously transmitted signals over 1 day were analysed. The results showed that (i) more than 100 000 bursts per day exceeded the 2% level of the maximum muscle activity in both muscles, whereas fewer than 100 bursts per day exceeded the 90% level; and (ii) the digastric muscle exhibited a significantly higher duty time than the masseter (respectively, 23% and 14% for activities exceeding the 2% level), which was mainly caused by the on average longer burst lengths at the lowest levels. The characterization of muscle activity in daily burst number and distribution of burst lengths exceeding various activity levels provides valuable information on motor control and enables further investigation of the adaptive capacity of muscles.