Intro | Golgi Tendon Organ | Motor Neuron | Muscle | Muscle Spindle | Sensory Neurons | Tendon
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The Golgi Tendon Organ is a proprioceptive receptor that is located within the tendons found on each end of a muscle. It responds to increased muscle tension or contraction as exerted on the tendon, by inhibiting further muscle contraction. When muscle contraction is excessive, the Golgi tendon organ protects against muscle damage. The proprioceptive sensory neuron of a Golgi tendon organ, projects to the motor neurons located within the ventral horn of the spinal cord, where the inhibition occurs. Unlike the muscle spindle, Golgi tendon organs do not indicate muscle length, but rather muscle tension.
Golgi tendon organs are approximately 1 millimeter long and 0.1 millimeter in diameter (Parent, 1996). These organs are composed of extrafusal muscle fibers that enter a funnel-like capsule that is filled with collagen fiber bundles. Nerve endings are entwined throughout these collagen fibers, and are triggered when tension in the muscle is transferred to the collagen fibers of the Golgi tendon organ. Golgi tendon organs are arranged in series with the extrafusal muscle fibers. This arrangement, along with the stiff structure of the Golgi tendon organ, renders this receptor more sensitive to muscle contraction than to muscle stretch. The Golgi tendon organ is therefore specialized for monitoring the load or tension on a muscle, independent of length (the job of the muscle spindle).
Parent, A. (1996). Carpenter's human neuroanatomy (9th ed.). London: Williams & Wilkins.