Role of the diaphragm in trunk rotation in humans

Anna L. Hudson, Jane E. Butler, Simon C. Gandevia, Andre de Troyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The objectives of the present study were to test the hypothesis that the costal diaphragm contracts during ipsilateral rotation of the trunk and that such trunk rotation increases the motor output of the muscle during inspiration. Monopolar electrodes were inserted in the right costal hemidiaphragm in six subjects, and electromyographic (EMG) recordings were made during isometric rotation efforts of the trunk to the right ("ipsilateral rotation") and to the left ("contralateral rotation"). EMG activity was simultaneously recorded from the parasternal intercostal muscles on the right side. The parasternal intercostals were consistently active during ipsilateral rotation but silent during contralateral rotation. In contrast, the diaphragm was silent in the majority of rotations in either direction, and whenever diaphragm activity was recorded, it involved very few motor units. In addition, whereas parasternal inspiratory activity substantially increased during ipsilateral rotation and decreased during contralateral rotation, inspiratory activity in the diaphragm was essentially unaltered and the discharge frequency of single motor units in the muscle remained at 13-14 Hz in the different postures. It is concluded that 1) the diaphragm makes no significant contribution to trunk rotation and 2) even though the diaphragm and parasternal intercostals contract in a coordinated manner during resting breathing, the inspiratory output of the two muscles is affected differently by voluntary drive during trunk rotation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1622-1628
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Inspiratory drive
  • Motoneurons
  • Posture
  • Voluntary contraction


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