Incidence of F waves in single human thenar motor units

Christine K. Thomas, Roland S. Johansson, Brenda Bigland-Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


F-wave generation, axon conduction velocities, and contractile properties were compared in 44 healthy individual human thenar motor units. Force and muscle action potentials were recorded when single motor axons were stimulated intraneurally about 10 cm proximal to the elbow. Each stimulus usually evoked only one electromyographic (EMG) potential. However, in seven units (16%), a single stimulus elicited an F wave in response to 1.7 ± 1.6% (mean ± SD) of the stimuli applied. Axon conduction velocity proximal to the site of stimulation was faster than distal conduction velocity (72.7 ± 8.0 m/s versus 64.2 ± 10.5 m/s). Distal conduction velocities, twitch forces, and contraction times were similar for units that did and did not generate F waves. Thus, no obvious subset of thenar motor units generated F waves. These results provide valuable baseline information on F waves that can be used to assess changes in axon conduction, motor unit contractile properties, and motoneuron excitability in disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • F waves
  • Median nerve
  • Motoneuron excitability
  • Motor unit force
  • Proximal conduction velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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