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Published January 1938 | Published
Journal Article Open

A Comparative Study Of The Double Motor Innervation In Marine Crustaceans


A double motor innervation has been shown for several muscles of marine crustaceans. The adductors of the claws of Randallia and Blepharipoda and the adductor of the dactylopodite of the walking leg of Cancer were studied physiologically. The two motor axons which innervate these muscles have a different diameter (ratio 1.4:1). Stimulation of the thick fibre causes a response, which, though it is not always faster than the response of the thin fibre, must be considered as a "fast" contraction. In Randallia and in Blepharipoda the slow contraction is higher than the fast with frequencies of less than ± 50 per sec., in Cancer with frequencies less than 100 per sec. The action currents of the two kinds of contraction are different. Both show facilitation, but under the same conditions of stimulation the fast-action currents are higher. The first stimulus of the thick fibre causes an action current top which is clearly distinguishable, the action currents of the slow contraction show up only after a number of stimuli. Even when the mechanical reaction on stimulation of the thick fibre is smaller than on similar stimulation of the thin fibre, the action currents are higher in the first case. A single impulse in the thick fibre does not cause a contraction, but sets up a muscle-action current. The chronaxie of this action current in Blepharipoda and Randallia is 0.8{sigma} and is about the same as that found for the action current of the nerve. Two impulses in the thick fibre may cause a mechanical response, as is shown by summation experiments. The pseudo-chronaxie of this contraction was measured as 3.5 {sigma}. The second action current shows facilitation, when it follows the first within 1 sec.; a mechanical reaction results with summation intervals of two stimuli of less than 10{sigma}. The facilitation of the action current increases with decrease of the time interval between the two impulses; with the shortest intervals that give summation the resulting action current is a smooth high spike.

Additional Information

© The Company of Biologists Ltd 1938. (Received 8 April 1937) We are greatly indebted to Dr G.E. MacGinitie for his generous help in obtaining the animals used in this investigation.

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