Finger Joint Angle Estimation Based on Motoneuron Discharge Activities

Chenyun Dai, Xiaogang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Estimation of joint kinematics plays an important role in intuitive human-machine interactions. However, continuous and reliable estimation of small (e.g., the finger) joint angles is still a challenge. The objective of this study was to continuously estimate finger joint angles using populational motoneuron firing activities. Multi-channel surface electromyogram (sEMG) signals were obtained from the extensor digitorum communis muscles, while the subjects performed individual finger oscillatory extension movements at two different speeds. The individual finger movement was first classified based on the EMG signals. The discharge timings of individual motor units were extracted through high-density EMG decomposition, and were then pooled as a composite discharge train. The firing frequency of the populational motor unit firing events was used to represent the descending neural drive to the motor unit pool. A second-order polynomial regression was then performed to predict the measured metacarpophalangeal extension angle using the derived neural drive based on the neuronal firings. Our results showed that individual finger extension movement can be classified with >96% accuracy based on multi-channel EMG. The extension angles of individual fingers can be predicted continuously by the derived neural drive with R2 values >0.8. The performance of the neural-drive-based approach was superior to the conventional EMG-amplitude-based approach, especially during fast movements. These findings indicated that the neural-drive-based interface was a promising approach to reliably predict individual finger kinematics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8753513
Pages (from-to)760-767
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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