The muscle system consists of
This is the most abundant tissue in the human body.Human body has some 639 separate muscles, which make up about half of the body weight.Movements in humans are brought about by the muscle tissue. This tissue consists of long, narrow,highly specialized cells called
The latter have two distinguishing properties:
The electrical excitability is due to the energy stored inan electrical potential difference across the plasma membrane. A chemical transmitter released at aneuromuscular junction (synapse between a motor neuron and a muscle fibre) excites the musclefibre’s membrane which depolarizes in response. The excitation in the membrane initiatescontraction in the muscle fibre.The study of muscles is called
A nerve fibre connects to a muscle fibre by one or more points called the
motor end plates
. It is atthe motor end plate that a nerve impulse stimulates a muscle fibre. The motor units function on the“all-or-none principle” when stimulated, i.e., the minimal stimulus which causes contraction causes acomplete contraction, a stronger stimulus will not cause a greater contraction. However, the entiremuscle does not obey this law, because the extent of its contraction depends upon the number of itsmotor units which are contracting at any particular time. A few motor units in action cause a feeblecontraction, many units in operation produce a stronger contraction. Thus, a gross muscle may showmany grades of contraction, depending upon the amount of stimulation. It is a common observationthat less exertion is needed to lift a sheet of paper than a book.The ability of the nervous system to progressively increase the strength of contraction byactivating more and more of the motor neurons controlling the muscle is called recruiting of motor neurons.
A specific minimum strength of the nerve impulse or some artificial stimulus required for exciting amuscle fibre to contract is called
of that muscle fibre. A nerve impulse or other stimulus below the threshold intensity of a muscle fibre fails to bring about its contraction. Thethreshold stimulus varies from fibre to fibre even in the same muscle.
SINGLE MUSCLE TWITCH
In a living animal, the muscles contract on stimulation by nerve impulses. In the laboratory, artificialstimuli, such as electric shock, application of acid, contact with a flame, bring about their contraction. A striated muscle responds to a single stimulus, say a single electric shock, with a singlequick contraction. This single isolated contraction of a muscle fibre caused by a single nerve impulseor artificial stimulus is called
. Immediately after a twitch, the muscle fibre relaxes.