Reorganization of motor unit activity at different sites within the human masseter muscle during experimental masseter pain

Bushra Malik, Terry Whittle, Toru Ogawa, Greg M. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The aims were to test the hypotheses that experimental masseter muscle pain leads to recruitment and/or derecruitment of motor units at different sites within the masseter and that the patterns of change in motor unit activity differ between sites. Single motor unit (SMU) activity was recorded at two sites within the right masseter [superior/anterior, inferior/posterior (IP)] during isometric biting tasks (ramp, step level) on an intraoral force transducer in 17 participants during three experimental blocks comprising no infusion (baseline), 5% hypertonic saline infusion (pain), or isotonic saline infusion (control). A visual analog scale (VAS) was used to score pain intensity. The VAS scores were statistically significantly greater during infusion of hypertonic saline than during infusion of isotonic saline. No significant differences in force levels and rates of force change were found between experimental blocks. In comparison with isotonic saline infusion, SMUs could be recruited and derecruited at both sites during hypertonic saline infusion. The frequency of recruitment or derecruitment, in comparison with no change, was statistically significantly greater at the IP site than at the superior/anterior site. Experimental noxious masseter stimulation results in a reorganization of motor unit activity throughout the muscle, and the pattern of reorganization may be different in different regions of the muscle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-410
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Oral Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct


  • action potentials
  • electromyography
  • isometric contraction
  • masticatory muscles
  • saline solution, hypertonic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Reorganization of motor unit activity at different sites within the human masseter muscle during experimental masseter pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this