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article imageHow pelvic muscles help delay urination

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2014 in Science
Needing to pee is an uncomfortable experience. There is a reason why we are (mostly) able to control urination. Scientists have revealed neural underpinnings of the involuntary flexing of the pelvic floor, which help us delay urination.
The new insight has come from scientists based at the University of Southern California (USC) and Loma Linda University. These researchers have discovered the parts of the brain that control the tightening of the all-important, pee-holding pelvic floor muscles.
Using electromyography (EMG) to measure muscle activation, the researchers showed tightening in diverse muscles — including the glutes and those in the toes — results in pelvic floor flexing. Functional MRI scans further revealed that the medial wall of the precentral gyrus, a brain region in the primary motor cortex, correlates with the activation of both the pelvic floor and the associated muscle groups.
Discussing the work further, Jason Kutch, an assistant professor in the Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy at the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry, said in a research note: "“We knew that pelvic floor muscles contract involuntarily in healthy people to make sure they don’t accidentally urinate, but we didn’t know what part of the nervous system was doing this. Now we know that there are specific brain regions controlling involuntary pelvic floor contraction."
As part of the same research program, the scientists also identified a number of other muscles throughout the body that flex in concert.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The research is called "Cortical Activation Associated with Muscle Synergies of the Human Male Pelvic Floor."
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