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Muscle Physiology

2. The Motor Unit

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About this Lecture


In the second mini-lecture, we build off what we learned in the previous mini-lecture and understand how we can control the contraction of muscles using motor neurones. With the wide variety of functions that muscles can carry out with varying dexterity and power, we start to appreciate how the structure of the muscle fibre (and accompanying motor neurones) enables its function. We then move on to how we classify different types of motor units, and how these motor units carry out different functions, with different amounts of force and speeds of contraction.


In this course, Professor Jon Scott (Independent Scholar) gives us an overview of muscle physiology, looking at their structure on a macro- and microscopic level. We begin by (i) understanding the importance of muscles as a means of the brain interacting with the world, and the immense power and dexterity they can provide; before (ii) understanding how muscles fibres change their organisation, and examine the different types of motor units we see across the body; and then (iii) looking at the sliding filament theory, and examine the structure of the fundamental contractile unit, the sarcomere; then looking at (iv) how the nervous system manipulates muscle fibres by frequency of activation to generate different amounts of force; and then (v) observing how muscle fibres conserve energy by natural frequencies of contraction; before finally (vi) understanding proprioception as the sixth sense of the body.


Professor Jon Scott is a higher education consultant with over 10 years of experience in senior leadership roles, most recently as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) at the University of Leicester (2015-19). On leaving that role he was given a life-time achievement award by the Students’ Union: ‘For excellent service and outstanding contributions to student experience’. Jon has extensive, ongoing experience as a reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency in England and Scotland and he was a member of the main Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Panel 2016-19. He has been engaged with AdvanceHE as an accreditor for the UKPSF for over five years and is a member of the Peer Review Quality Board. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2012 and recognised as a Principal Fellow in 2013. Jon has wide-ranging experience of educational leadership and has published research papers in the fields of student experience and retention, academic integrity and assessment and feedback as well as core textbooks on Study and Communication Skills. He was named as UK Bioscience Teacher of the Year in 2011 and elected to a personal chair in Bioscience Education in 2012. Jon has worked widely with different universities as an external examiner and quality assurance adviser in the UK and internationally. In the latter context he is currently engaged as a quality assurance adviser to the Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan. He has undertaken large-scale reviews on behalf of different universities and advised on preparations for QAA reviews and professional body accreditations. Jon has championed the development of reward and recognition schemes in relation to teaching and learning and is also an experienced mentor, in particular supporting colleagues in developing leadership roles and preparing for promotion.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Scott, J. (2022, August 30). Muscle Physiology - The Motor Unit [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Scott, J. "Muscle Physiology – The Motor Unit." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 Aug 2022,

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