Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/39

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on muscular Motion.

affects the right hand. An ingenious practical chemist in London has frequently experienced spasms and rigidity in the muscles of his fore arms, from affusions of nitric acid over the cuticle of the hand and arm. The use of mercury occasionally brings on a similar rigidity in the masseter muscles.

A smaller quantity of blood flows through a muscle during the state of contraction, than during the quiescent state, as is evinced by the pale colour of red muscles when contracted. The retardation of the flow of blood from the veins of the fore arm, during venæsection, when the muscles of the limb are kept rigid, and the increased flow after alternate relaxations, induces the probability, that a temporary retardation of the blood in the muscular fibrils takes place during each contraction, and that its free course obtains again during the relaxation. This state of the vascular system in a contracted muscle, does not, however, explain the diminution of its bulk, although it may have some influence on the limb of a living animal.

When muscles are vigorously contracted, their sensibility to pain is nearly destroyed; this means is employed by jugglers for the purpose of suffering pins to be thrust into the calf of the leg, and other muscular parts with impunity: it is indeed reasonable to expect, a priori, that the sensation, and the voluntary influence, cannot pass along the nerves at the Same time.

In addition to the influences already enumerated, the human muscles are susceptible of changes from extraordinary occurrences of sensible impressions. Long continued attention to interesting visible objects, or to audible sensations, are known to exhaust the muscular strength: intense thought and anxiety, weaken the muscular powers, and the passions of grief and

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