Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Ryan Foley

Advisor Role

Primary Investigator/ Author

Second Advisor

Jayne Kalmar

Advisor Role

Principal Investigator


Persistent inward current (PIC) is a membrane property critical for increasing gain of motor neuron output. In humans, most estimates of PIC are made from plantarflexor or dorsiflexor motor units with the participant in a seated position with the knee flexed. This seated and static posture neglects the task-dependent nature of the monoaminergic drive that modulates PIC activation. Seated estimates may drastically underestimate the amount of PIC that occurs in human motor neurons during functional movement. The current study estimated PIC using the conventional paired motor unit technique which uses the difference between reference unit firing frequency at test unit recruitment and reference unit firing frequency at test unit de-recruitment (∆F) during triangular-shaped, isometric ramps in plantarflexion force as an estimate of PIC. Estimates of PIC were also made during standing anterior postural sway, a postural task that elicits a ramped increase and decrease in soleus motor unit activation similar to the conventional seated ramp contractions. For each motor unit pair, ∆F estimates of PIC made during conventional isometric ramps in the seated posture were compared to those made during standing postural sway. Baseline reciprocal inhibition (RI) was also measured in each posture using the post-stimulus time histogram (PSTH) technique. Hyperpolarizing input has been shown to have a reciprocal relationship with PIC in seated posture and RI was measured to examine if the same reciprocal relationship holds true during functional PIC estimation. It was hypothesized that an increase in ∆F would be seen during standing compared to sitting due to greater neuromodulatory input. We found that ∆F estimates during standing postural sway were equal (2.44 ± 1.17, p=0.44) to those in seated PIC estimates (2.73± 1.20) using the same motor unit pair. Reciprocal inhibition was significantly lower when measured in a standing posture (0.0031 ± 0.0251, p

Convocation Year


Convocation Season