muscle synergy
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Pietro Morasso

The human “marionette” is extremely complex and multi-articulated: anatomical redundancy (in terms of Degrees of Freedom: DoFs), kinematic redundancy (movements can have different trajectories, velocities, and accelerations and yet achieve the same goal, according to the principle of Motor Equivalence), and neurophysiological redundancy (many more muscles than DoFs and multiple motor units for each muscle). Although it is quite obvious that such abundance is not noxious at all because, in contrast, it is instrumental for motor learning, allowing the nervous system to “explore” the space of feasible actions before settling on an elegant and possibly optimal solution, the crucial question then boils down to figure out how the nervous system “chooses/selects/recruits/modulates” task-dependent subsets of countless assemblies of DoFs as functional motor synergies. Despite this daunting conceptual riddle, human purposive behavior in daily life activities is a proof of concept that solutions can be found easily and quickly by the embodied brain of the human cognitive agent. The point of view suggested in this essay is to frame the question above in the old-fashioned but still seminal observation by Marr and Poggio that cognitive agents should be regarded as Generalized Information Processing Systems (GIPS) and should be investigated according to three nearly independent but complementary levels of analysis: 1) the computational level, 2) the algorithmic level, and 3) the implementation level. In this framework, we attempt to discriminate as well as aggregate the different hypotheses and solutions proposed so far: the optimal control hypothesis, the muscle synergy hypothesis, the equilibrium point hypothesis, or the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis, to mention the most popular ones. The proposed GIPS follows the strategy of factoring out shaping and timing by adopting a force-field based approach (the Passive Motion Paradigm) that is inspired by the Equilibrium Point Hypothesis, extended in such a way to represent covert as well overt actions. In particular, it is shown how this approach can explain spatio-temporal invariances and, at the same time, solve the Degrees of Freedom Problem.

Jiamin Zhao ◽  
Yang Yu ◽  
Xu Wang ◽  
Shihan Ma ◽  
Xinjun Sheng ◽  

Abstract Objective. Musculoskeletal model (MM) driven by electromyography (EMG) signals has been identified as a promising approach to predicting human motions in the control of prostheses and robots. However, muscle excitations in MMs are generally derived from the EMG signals of the targeted sensor covering the muscle, inconsistent with the fact that signals of a sensor are from multiple muscles considering signal crosstalk in actual situation. To identify more accurate muscle excitations for MM in the presence of crosstalk, we proposed a novel excitation-extracting method inspired by muscle synergy for simultaneously estimating hand and wrist movements. Approach. Muscle excitations were firstly extracted using a two-step muscle synergy-derived method. Specifically, we calculated subject-specific muscle weighting matrix and corresponding profiles according to contributions of different muscles for movements derived from synergistic motion relation. Then, the improved excitations were used to simultaneously estimate hand and wrist movements through musculoskeletal modeling. Moreover, the offline comparison among the proposed method, traditional MM and regression methods, and an online test of the proposed method were conducted. Main results. The offline experiments demonstrated that the proposed approach outperformed the EMG envelope-driven MM and three regression models with higher R and lower NRMSE. Furthermore, the comparison of excitations of two MMs validated the effectiveness of the proposed approach in extracting muscle excitations in the presence of crosstalk. The online test further indicated the superior performance of the proposed method than the MM driven by EMG envelopes. Significance. The proposed excitation-extracting method identified more accurate neural commands for MMs, providing a promising approach in rehabilitation and robot control to model the transformation from surface EMG to joint kinematics.

2022 ◽  
David R. Young ◽  
Caitlin L. Banks ◽  
Theresa E. McGuirk ◽  
Carolynn Patten

Abstract Stroke survivors often exhibit gait dysfunction which compromises self-efficacy and quality of life. Muscle Synergy Analysis (MSA), derived from electromyography (EMG), has been argued as a method to quantify the complexity of descending motor commands and serve as a direct correlate of neural function. However, controversy remains regarding this interpretation, specifically attribution of MSA as a neuromarker. Here we sought to determine the relationship between MSA and accepted neurophysiological parameters of motor efficacy in healthy controls, high (HFH) and low (LFH) functioning stroke survivors. Surface EMG was collected from twenty-four participants while walking at their self-selected speed. Concurrently, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was administered, during walking, to elicit motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in the plantarflexor muscles during the pre-swing phase of gait. MSA was able to differentiate control and LFH individuals. Conversely, motor neurophysiological parameters including soleus MEP area, revealed that MEP latency differentiated control and HFH individuals. Significant correlations were revealed between MSA and motor neurophysiological parameters adding evidence to our understanding of MSA as a correlate of neural function and highlighting the utility of combining MSA with other relevant outcomes to aid interpretation of this analysis technique.

Fereidoun Nowshiravan Rahatabad ◽  
Parisa Rangraz

Purpose: Muscle synergy is a functional unit that coordinates the activity of a number of muscles. In this study, the extraction of muscle synergies in three types of hand movements in the horizontal plane is investigated. Materials and Methods: So, after constructing the tracking pattern of three signals, by LabVIEW, the Electromyography (EMG) signal from six muscles of hand was recorded. Then time-constant muscle synergies and their activity curves from the recorded EMG signals were extracted using Non-negative Matrix Factorization (NMF) method. Results: Comparison of these patterns showed that the non-random motions’ synergies were more similar than the random motions among different individuals. It was observed that in all movements, the similarity of the synergies in one cluster was greater than the similarity of their corresponding activation curves. Conclusion: The results showed that the complexity of the recurrence plot in random movement is greater than that of the other movements.

Gareth James Richard York ◽  
Hugh Osborne ◽  
Piyanee Sriya ◽  
Sarah Astill ◽  
Marc de Kamps ◽  

The influence of proprioceptive feedback on muscle activity during isometric tasks is the subject of conflicting studies. We performed an isometric knee extension task experiment based on two common clinical tests for mobility and flexibility. The task was carried out at four pre-set angles of the knee and we recorded from five muscles for two different hip positions. We applied muscle synergy analysis using non-negative matrix factorisation on surface electromyograph recordings to identify patterns in the data which changed with internal knee angle, suggesting a link between proprioception and muscle activity. We hypothesised that such patterns arise from the way proprioceptive and cortical signals are integrated in neural circuits of the spinal cord. Using the MIIND neural simulation platform, we developed a computational model based on current understanding of spinal circuits with an adjustable afferent input. The model produces the same synergy trends as observed in the data, driven by changes in the afferent input. In order to match the activation patterns from each knee angle and position of the experiment, the model predicts the need for three distinct inputs: two to control a non-linear bias towards the extensors and against the flexors, and a further input to control additional inhibition of rectus femoris. The results show that proprioception may be involved in modulating muscle synergies encoded in cortical or spinal neural circuits.

Sensors ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 21 (23) ◽  
pp. 8002
Lorenza Maistrello ◽  
Daniele Rimini ◽  
Vincent C. K. Cheung ◽  
Giorgia Pregnolato ◽  
Andrea Turolla

Recent studies have investigated muscle synergies as biomarkers for stroke, but it remains controversial if muscle synergies and clinical observation convey the same information on motor impairment. We aim to identify whether muscle synergies and clinical scales convey the same information or not. Post-stroke patients were administered an upper limb treatment. Before (T0) and after (T1) treatment, we assessed motor performance with clinical scales and motor output with EMG-derived muscle synergies. We implemented an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to identify the underlying relationships among all variables, at T0 and T1, and a general linear regression model to infer any relationships between the similarity between the affected and unaffected synergies (Median-sp) and clinical outcomes at T0. Clinical variables improved with rehabilitation whereas muscle-synergy parameters did not show any significant change. EFA and CFA showed that clinical variables and muscle-synergy parameters (except Median-sp) were grouped into different factors. Regression model showed that Median-sp could be well predicted by clinical scales. The information underlying clinical scales and muscle synergies are therefore different. However, clinical scales well predicted the similarity between the affected and unaffected synergies. Our results may have implications on personalizing rehabilitation protocols.

2021 ◽  
Vol 15 ◽  
Hyeonseok Kim ◽  
Yeongdae Kim ◽  
Makoto Miyakoshi ◽  
Sorawit Stapornchaisit ◽  
Natsue Yoshimura ◽  

In various experimental settings, electromyography (EMG) signals have been used to control robots. EMG-based robot control requires intrinsic parameters for control, which makes it difficult for users to understand the input protocol. When a proper input is not provided, the response time of the system varies; as such, the user’s subjective delay should be investigated regardless of the actual delay. In this study, we investigated the influence of the subjective perception of delay on brain activation. Brain recordings were taken while subjects used EMG signals to control a robot hand, which requires a basic processing delay. We used muscle synergy for the grip command of the robot hand. After controlling the robot by grasping their hand, one of four additional delay durations (0 ms, 50 ms, 125 ms, and 250 ms) was applied in every trial, and subjects were instructed to answer whether the delay was natural, additional, or whether they were not sure. We compared brain activity based on responses (“sure” and “not sure”). Our results revealed a significant power difference in the theta band of the parietal lobe, and this time range included the interval in which the subjects could not feel the delay. Our study provides important insights that should be considered when constructing an adaptive system and evaluating its usability.

2021 ◽  
Lin T. Hu ◽  
Chong Xu ◽  
Lin Chen ◽  
Xiao Y. Wu ◽  
Wen S. Hou

Healthcare ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 9 (11) ◽  
pp. 1426
Donghwan Park ◽  
Youngsook Bae

This study aimed to determine the effect of a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) pattern Kinesio taping (KT) application on the ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (DF-ROM) and balance ability in patients with chronic stroke. This crossover study included 18 patients with stroke. The subjects were randomly assigned to three interventions: barefoot, ankle KT (A-KT), and PNF-KT. The A-KT was applied to the gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles, and subtalar eversion. The PNF-KT was applied on the extensor hallucis, extensor digitorum, and TA muscles. DR-ROM was measured using the iSen™, a wearable sensor. Balance ability was assessed based on static balance, measured by the Biodex Balance System (BBS), and dynamic balance, measured by the timed up and go (TUG) test and dynamic gait index (DGI). Compared with the barefoot and A-KT interventions, PNF-KT showed significant improvements in the ankle DF-ROM and BBS scores, TUG, and DGI. PNF-KT, for functional muscle synergy, improved the ankle DF-ROM and balance ability in patients with chronic stroke. Therefore, the application of PNF-KT may be a feasible therapeutic method for improving ankle movement and balance in patients with chronic stroke. Additional research is recommended to identify the long-term effects of the PNF-KT.

Biomimetics ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 6 (4) ◽  
pp. 63
Kunkun Zhao ◽  
Zhisheng Zhang ◽  
Haiying Wen ◽  
Alessandro Scano

Quantifying movement variability is a crucial aspect for clinical and laboratory investigations in several contexts. However, very few studies have assessed, in detail, the intra-subject variability across movements and the inter-subject variability. Muscle synergies are a valuable method that can be used to assess such variability. In this study, we assess, in detail, intra-subject and inter-subject variability in a scenario based on a comprehensive dataset, including multiple repetitions of multi-directional reaching movements. The results show that muscle synergies are a valuable tool for quantifying variability at the muscle level and reveal that intra-subject variability is lower than inter-subject variability in synergy modules and related temporal coefficients, and both intra-subject and inter-subject similarity are higher than random synergy matching, confirming shared underlying control structures. The study deepens the available knowledge on muscle synergy-based motor function assessment and rehabilitation applications, discussing their applicability to real scenarios.

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