2022-06-03Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/25825
Sex-specific tuning of modular muscle activation patterns for locomotion in young and older adults
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
There is increasing evidence that including sex as a biological variable is of crucial importance to promote rigorous, repeatable and reproducible science. In spite of this, the body of literature that accounts for the sex of participants in human locomotion studies is small and often produces controversial results. Here, we investigated the modular organization of muscle activation patterns for human locomotion using the concept of muscle synergies with a double purpose: i) uncover possible sex-specific characteristics of motor control and ii) assess whether these are maintained in older age. We recorded electromyographic activities from 13 ipsilateral muscles of the lower limb in young and older adults of both sexes walking (young and old) and running (young) on a treadmill. The data set obtained from the 215 participants was elaborated through non-negative matrix factorization to extract the time-independent (i.e., motor modules) and time-dependent (i.e., motor primitives) coefficients of muscle synergies. We found sparse sex-specific modulations of motor control. Motor modules showed a different contribution of hip extensors, knee extensors and foot dorsiflexors in various synergies. Motor primitives were wider (i.e., lasted longer) in males in the propulsion synergy for walking (but only in young and not in older adults) and in the weight acceptance synergy for running. Moreover, the complexity of motor primitives was similar in younger adults of both sexes, but lower in older females as compared to older males. In essence, our results revealed the existence of small but defined sex-specific differences in the way humans control locomotion and that these are not entirely maintained in older age.
Files in this item
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.