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A motor unit is a single α-motor neuron and all of the corresponding muscle fibers it innervates. Groups of motor units often work together to coordinate the contractions of a single muscle; all of the motor units that subserve a single muscle are considered a motor unit pool. The number of muscle fibers within each unit can vary: thigh muscles can have a thousand fibers in each unit, eye muscles might have ten. In general, the number of muscle fibers innervated by a motor unit is a function of a muscle's need for refined motion. Muscles requiring more refined motion are innervated by motor units that synapse with fewer muscle fibers.

In medical electrodiagnostic testing for a patient with weakness, careful analysis of the "motor unit action potential" (MUAP) size, shape, and recruitment pattern can help in distinguishing a myopathy from a neuropathy.

See also

de:Motorische Einheit
fr:Unité motrice
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