Coordination of activity of inspiratory intercostal muscles in conscious human subjects was studied by means of an array of electromyograph (EMG) electrodes. Bipolar fine wire electrodes were placed in the second and fourth parasternal intercostal muscles and in two or three external intercostal muscles in the midaxillary line from the fourth to eighth intercostal spaces. Subjects breathed quietly or rebreathed from a bag containing 8% CO2 in O2 in both supine and upright postures. Respiration was monitored by means of flow, volume, and separate rib cage and abdominal volumes. Onset of EMG activity in each breath was found near the beginning of inspiration in the uppermost intercostal spaces but progressively later in inspiration in lower spaces, indicating that activity spreads downward across the rib cage through inspiration. At higher ventilation stimulated by CO2, activity spread further and faster downward. In voluntary deep breathing, external intercostal muscles tended to be recruited earlier in inspiration than in CO2-stimulated breathing. The change from supine to sitting resulted in small and inconsistent changes. There was no lung volume or rib cage volume threshold for appearance of EMG activity in any of the spaces.
- Copyright © 1989 the American Physiological Society