Most people are impressed by how a toad jumps. UC Irvine biologist Emanuel Azizi is more impressed by how one lands.
An assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology who specializes in muscle physiology and biomechanics, Azizi found that nature's favorite leapers possess a neuromuscular response that's specific to the intensity of a landing – a mechanism that protects muscles from injury upon impact.
The research is helping reveal how the nervous system modulates motor control patterns involved with jumping and landing. Azizi's findings on the underlying function of muscle control, he said, could one day improve rehabilitation programs for people with neuromuscular deficiencies.
In all vertebrates – from toads to humans – muscles contract to provide jumping power. Landing, however, requires that muscles stretch to dissipate energy and slow the body. But if muscles become overstretched during landing, injury can occur.For a study appearing online today in Biology Letters, Azizi and UC Irvine graduate student Emily Abbott measured toads' muscular responses to leaps of different lengths. They discovered that during landing, toads' muscles adapt to the varying intensity of impact. As the creatures hop over longer distances, their landing muscles increasingly shorten in anticipation of larger impacts.
This pattern indicates that rapid and coordinated responses of the nervous system can act to protect muscles from injury, said Azizi, who added that future efforts will be aimed at understanding what sensory information is used to modulate these responses.
"Toads are ideal for studying jumping and landing because they're so good at it," he noted. "This work is providing the basic science on how muscles respond during high-impact behaviors like landing or falling."
University of California - Irvine: http://www.uci.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
The Great Barrier Reef should not go on the World Heritage danger list, according to a United Nations draft report.
Your budgie isn't bored, it just finds yawning as contagious as you do. These common pets are the first non-mammals in which yawning has been caught spreading
Dinosaurs, those bygone masters of the planet, were warm-blooded just like today's mammals, according to a scientist who judged their metabolism using body mass and growth rates deduced from fossils of species including Tyrannosaurus rex.
Previously unknown prehistoric beaver bears an uncanny likeness to the modern state symbol
The latest research shows memories “lost” to amnesia aren’t gone forever; they’re just not accessible
The chief disease agency in the U.S. is looking into why the spores shipped to laboratories in nine states and a military base in South Korea hadn't been properly neutralized. So far no one is sick.
When players can change tactics, the game loops endlessly between the three weapons
When you spend five years watching kangaroos, you start to see some strange things.
Nearly three-quarters of fresh shop-bought chickens test positive for food poisoning bug campylobacter in year-long study.
Designed to give paralysed people more independence, the implant also lets us see if brain activity can show a person's decisions – before they realise they've made any