# Non-invasive assessment of single motor unit mechanomyographic response and twitch force by spike-triggered averaging

**ABSTRACT** A method for non-invasive assessment of single motor unit (MU) properties from electromyographic (EMG), mechanomyographic (MMG) and force signals is proposed. The method is based on the detection and classification of single MU action potentials from interference multichannel surface EMG signals and on the spike-triggered average of the MMG (detected by an accelerometer) and force signals. The first dorsal interosseous (FDI) and abductor digiti minimi (ADM) muscles were investigated at contraction levels of 2% and 5% of the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) force. A third contraction was performed by selective activation of a single MU with surface MU action potential visual feedback provided to the subject. At 5% MVC, the mean (+/-standard error) single MU MMG peak-to-peak value was 11.0+/-1.8 mm s(-2) (N= 17) and 32.3+/-6.5 mm s(-2) (N=20) for the FDI and ADM muscles, respectively. The peak of the twitch force was, at the same contraction level, 7.41+/-1.34 mN and 14.42+/-2.92 mN, for the FDI and ADM muscles, respectively. The peak-to-peak value of the MMG was significantly different for the same MU at different contraction levels, indicating a non-linear summation of the single MU contributions. For the FDI muscle, the MMG peak-to-peak value of individual MUs was 21.5+/-7.8 mm s(-2), when such MUs were activated with visual feedback provided to the subject, whereas, for the same MUs, it was 11.8+/-3.8 mm s(-2), when the subject maintained a constant force level of 2% MVC. The method proposed allows the non-invasive assessment of single MU membrane and contractile properties during voluntary contractions.

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**ABSTRACT:**Theoretically, the critical torque (CT), electromyographic mean power frequency fatigue threshold (EMG MPF(FT)), and mechanomyographic mean power frequency fatigue threshold (MMG MPF(FT)) describe the maximal non-fatiguing isometric torque level. The purposes of this study were threefold: (1) to determine if the mathematical model for estimating the EMG MPF(FT) during isometric muscle actions of the leg extensors was applicable to isometric muscle actions of the forearm flexors; (2) to determine if the mathematical model for estimating the EMG MPF(FT) from the frequency of the EMG signal was applicable to the frequency domain of the MMG signal to estimate a new fatigue threshold called the mechanomyographic mean power frequency fatigue threshold (MMG MPF(FT)); and (3) to compare the mean torque levels derived from the CT, EMG MPF(FT), and MMG MPF(FT) tests during isometric forearm flexion muscle actions. Ten adults (4 men and 6 women, mean ± SD; age = 22.0 ± 2.1 years) performed three or four continuous, fatiguing, isometric muscle actions of the forearm flexors at 30, 45, 60, and 75% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) to determine the time to exhaustion (T(lim)) values. The slope coefficient of the linear relationship between total isometric "work" (W(lim) in Nms=torque × T(lim)) and T(lim) was defined as the CT. Surface EMG and MMG signals were recorded from the biceps brachii muscle during each fatiguing isometric muscle action. The EMG and MMG MPF(FT) were defined as the y-intercepts of the isometric torque versus slope coefficient (EMG and MMG MPF versus time) plots. There were no significant differences between fatigue thresholds (CT=26.3 ± 0.8, EMG MPF(FT)=31.4 ± 4.2, and MMG MPF(FT)=29.5 ± 7.0%MVIC), and the mean torque values (Nm) from the three fatigue thresholds were significantly intercorrelated at r = 0.94-0.96. The EMG MPF(FT) test may provide a non-invasive method to examine the effects of interventions on the conduction velocity and shape of the action potential waveform. In addition, the effects of interventions on the global motor unit firing rate of the unfused, activated motor units may be examined by the non-invasive methods of the MMG MPF(FT) test.Journal of neuroscience methods 12/2010; 194(1):64-72. DOI:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.07.006 · 1.96 Impact Factor - [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]

**ABSTRACT:**Theoretically, the mechanomyographic (MMG) mean power frequency fatigue threshold (MMG MPF(FT)) describes the maximal isometric torque that can be maintained for an extended period of time with no change in the global firing rate of the unfused, activated motor units. The purposes of this study were twofold: (1) to determine if the mathematical model for estimating the electromyographic (EMG) MPF(FT) from the frequency of the EMG signal was applicable to the frequency domain of the MMG signal to estimate a new fatigue threshold called the MMG MPF(FT); and (2) to compare the mean torque levels derived from the MMG MPF(FT) test for the vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), and rectus femoris (RF) muscles during isometric leg extension muscle actions. Nine adults (4 men and 5 women; mean+/-S.D. age=21.6+/-1.2 years) performed three or four continuous, fatiguing, isometric muscle actions of the leg extensors at 30, 45, 60, and 75% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) to exhaustion. Surface MMG signals were recorded from the VL, VM, and RF muscles during each fatiguing isometric muscle action. The MMG MPF(FT) was defined as the y-intercept of the isometric torque versus slope coefficient (MMG MPF versus time) plot. There were no significant differences among the MMG MPF(FT) values for the VL, VM, and RF (34.8+/-23.4, 32.1+/-16.1, and 31.6+/-15.2 Nm, respectively) muscles. The MMG MPF(FT) test may provide a non-invasive method to examine the effects of various interventions on the global motor unit firing rate during isometric muscle actions.Journal of neuroscience methods 11/2009; 187(1):1-7. DOI:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.11.019 · 1.96 Impact Factor - [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]

**ABSTRACT:**The aim of the study was to investigate amplitude and frequency content of single motor unit (MU) electromyographic (EMG) and mechanomyographic (MMG) responses. Multi-channel surface EMG and MMG signals were detected from the dominant biceps brachii muscle of 10 volunteers during isometric voluntary contractions at 20%, 50%, and 80% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force. Each contraction was performed three times in the experimental session which was repeated in three non-consecutive days. Single MU action potentials were identified from the surface EMG signals and their times of occurrence used to trigger the averaging of the MMG signal. At each contraction level, the MUs with action potentials of highest amplitude were identified. Single MU EMG and MMG amplitude and mean frequency were estimated with normalized standard error of the mean within subjects (due to repetition of the measure in different trials and experimental sessions) smaller than 15% and 7%, respectively, in all conditions. The amplitude of the action potentials of the detected MUs increased with increasing force (mean +/- SD, 244 +/- 116 microV at 20% MVC, and 1426 +/- 638 microV at 80% MVC; P < 0.001) while MU MMG amplitude increased from 20% to 50% MVC (40.5 +/- 20.9 and 150 +/- 88.4 mm/s(2), respectively; P<0.001) and did not change significantly between 50% and 80% MVC (129 +/ -82.7 mm/s(2) at 80% MVC). MU EMG mean frequency decreased with contraction level (20% MVC: 97.2 +/- 13.9 Hz; 80% MVC: 86.2 +/- 11.4 Hz; P < 0.001) while MU MMG mean frequency increased (20% MVC: 33.2 +/- 6.8 Hz; 80% MVC: 40.1 +/- 6.1 Hz; P < 0.001). EMG peak-to-peak amplitude and mean frequency of individual MUs were not correlated with the corresponding variables of MMG at any contraction level.Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 02/2006; 16(1):17-24. DOI:10.1016/j.jelekin.2005.02.005 · 1.73 Impact Factor