A study has been made of the depression that occurs when a monosynaptic reflex pathway is subjected to repetitive stimulation.
Reflex depression has a dual origin. High frequency or early depression is postsynaptic in origin and results from subnormality in the motoneurons. Low frequency, late, or enduring depression is presynaptic in origin.
The conditioning volley-test volley technique and the frequency-mean monosynaptic reflex amplitude relation yield similar information concerning reflex depression. Each method has its advantages and for some purposes one or the other of the methods necessarily must be employed.
The results of a variety of experiments are consistent with the proposition that reflex depression in the monosynaptic reflex pathway originates by action in the group IA afferent fibers of muscle origin that are responsible for monosynaptic reflex transmission.
Depression is present at a frequency of 0.1 per second (6 per minute) and absent at a frequency of 0.05 per second (3 per minute). Thus it is impractical for most purposes to employ repetition rates that satisfy the requirement for designation as "single shock" stimulations.
The temporal course of enduring depression has been determined. It is identical with that for a number of other phenomena observable in monosynaptic reflex pathways, which suggests a common origin. The mechanism of low frequency or enduring depression is discussed in the light of this suggestion.