Adaptive Real-Time Decomposition of Electromyogram During Sustained Muscle Activation: A Simulation Study

Yang Zheng, Xiaogang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Real-time decomposition of electromyogram (EMG) into constituent motor unit (MU) activity has shown promising applications in neurophysiology and human-machine interactions. Existing decomposition methods could not accommodate stochastic variations in EMG signals such as drifts of action potential amplitudes and MU recruitment-derecruitment (rotation) patterns during long-term recordings. The objective of this study was to develop an adaptive real-time decomposition approach suitable for prolonged muscle activation. Methods: We developed a parallel-double-thread computation algorithm. The backend thread initiated and periodically refined and updated the MU information (separation matrix) using independent component analysis and convolution kernel compensation. The frontend thread performed the real-time decomposition. We evaluated our algorithm on synthesized high-density EMG signals, in which MUs were recruited-derecruited sporadically and MU action potentials amplitude drifted over time. Different signal-to-noise levels were also simulated. Results: Compared with the decomposition without the adaptive processes, periodically fine-tuned and updated separation matrix increased identifiable MU number by 3-4 fold over 30-minute of signals. The increased MU number was more prominent at higher signal-to-noise ratios. The decomposition accuracy also increased by up to 10% with greater improvement observed at higher muscle contraction levels. Conclusion: The adaptive algorithm can maintain the decomposition performance over time, allows us to continuously track the same MUs during sustained activation, and, at the same time, can add newly recruited MU information to existing separation matrix. Significance: Our approach showed robust performance over time, which has the potential to longitudinally evaluate MU firing and recruitment properties and improve neural decoding performance for neural-machine interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-653
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering


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