7 research outputs found

    Information decomposition of multichannel EMG to map functional interactions in the distributed motor system

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    The central nervous system needs to coordinate multiple muscles during postural control. Functional coordination is established through the neural circuitry that interconnects different muscles. Here we used multivariate information decomposition of multichannel EMG acquired from 14 healthy participants during postural tasks to investigate the neural interactions between muscles. A set of information measures were estimated from an instantaneous linear regression model and a time-lagged VAR model fitted to the EMG envelopes of 36 muscles. We used network analysis to quantify the structure of functional interactions between muscles and compared them across experimental conditions. Conditional mutual information and transfer entropy revealed sparse networks dominated by local connections between muscles. We observed significant changes in muscle networks across postural tasks localized to the muscles involved in performing those tasks. Information decomposition revealed distinct patterns in task-related changes: unimanual and bimanual pointing were associated with reduced transfer to the pectoralis major muscles, but an increase in total information compared to no pointing, while postural instability resulted in increased information, information transfer and information storage in the abductor longus muscles compared to normal stability. These findings show robust patterns of directed interactions between muscles that are task-dependent and can be assessed from surface EMG recorded during static postural tasks. We discuss directed muscle networks in terms of the neural circuitry involved in generating muscle activity and suggest that task-related effects may reflect gain modulations of spinal reflex pathways

    Body Weight Control Is a Key Element of Motor Control for Toddlers’ Walking

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    New-borns can step when supported for about 70–80% of their own body weight. Gravity-related sensorimotor information might be an important factor in developing the ability to walk independently. We explored how body weight support alters motor control in toddlers during the first independent steps and in toddlers with about half a year of walking experience. Sixteen different typically developing children were assessed during (un)supported walking on a running treadmill. Electromyography of 18–24 bilateral leg and back muscles and vertical ground reaction forces were recorded. Strides were grouped into four levels of body weight support ranging from no (<10%), low (10–35%), medium (35–55%), and high (55–95%) support. We constructed muscle synergies and muscle networks and assessed differences between levels of support and between groups. In both groups, muscle activities could be described by four synergies. As expected, the mean activity decreased with body weight support around foot strikes. The younger first-steps group showed changes in the temporal pattern of the synergies when supported for more than 35% of their body weight. In this group, the muscle network was dense with several interlimb connections. Apparently, the ability to process gravity-related information is not fully developed at the onset of independent walking causing motor control to be fairly disperse. Synergy-specific sensitivity for unloading implies distinct neural mechanisms underlying (the emergence of) these synergies

    Muscle synergies and coherence networks reflect different modes of coordination during walking

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    When walking speed is increased, the frequency ratio between the arm and leg swing switches spontaneously from 2:1 to 1:1. We examined whether these switches are accompanied by changes in functional connectivity between multiple muscles. Subjects walked on a treadmill with their arms swinging along their body while kinematics and surface electromyography (EMG) of 26 bilateral muscles across the body were recorded. Walking speed was varied from very slow to normal. We decomposed EMG envelopes and intermuscular coherence spectra using non-negative matrix factorization (NMF), and the resulting modes were combined into multiplex networks and analyzed for their community structure. We found five relevant muscle synergies that significantly differed in activation patterns between 1:1 and 2:1 arm-leg coordination and the transition period between them. The corresponding multiplex network contained a single module indicating pronounced muscle co-activation patterns across the whole body during a gait cycle. NMF of the coherence spectra distinguished three EMG frequency bands: 4–8, 8–22, and 22–60 Hz. The community structure of the multiplex network revealed four modules, which clustered functional and anatomical linked muscles across modes of coordination. Intermuscular coherence at 4–22 Hz between upper and lower body and within the legs was particularly pronounced for 1:1 arm-leg coordination and was diminished when switching between modes of coordination. These findings suggest that the stability of arm-leg coordination is associated with modulations in long-distant neuromuscular connectivity

    Network structure of the human musculoskeletal system shapes neural interactions on multiple time scales

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    Human motor control requires the coordination of muscle activity under the anatomical constraints imposed by the musculoskeletal system. Interactions within the central nervous system are fundamental to motor coordination, but the principles governing functional integration remain poorly understood. We used network analysis to investigate the relationship between anatomical and functional connectivity among 36 muscles. Anatomical networks were defined by the physical connections between muscles, and functional networks were based on intermuscular coherence assessed during postural tasks. We found a modular structure of functional networks that was strongly shaped by the anatomical constraints of the musculoskeletal system. Changes in postural tasks were associated with a frequency-dependent reconfiguration of the coupling between functional modules. These findings reveal distinct patterns of functional interactions between muscles involved in flexibly organizing muscle activity during postural control. Our network approach to the motor system offers a unique window into the neural circuitry driving the musculoskeletal system

    Functional connectivity analysis of multiplex muscle network across frequencies

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    Physiological networks reveal information about the interaction between subsystems of the human body. Here we investigated the interaction between the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system by mapping functional muscle networks. Muscle networks were extracted using coherence analysis of muscle activity assessed using surface electromyography (EMG). Surface EMG was acquired from 36 muscles distributed throughout the body while participants were standing upright and performing a bimanual pointing task. Non-negative matrix factorization revealed functional connectivity in four frequency bands. The spatial arrangement differed considerably across frequencies supporting a multiplex network organisation. Graph-theory analysis of layer-specific network revealed a consistent fat-tail distribution of the edges weights, distinct efficiency values, and core-periphery properties. These frequency bands may be spectral fingerprints of different neural pathways that innervate the spinal motor neurons to control the musculoskeletal system

    Neuromuscular control before and after independent walking onset in children with cerebral palsy

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    Early brain lesions which produce cerebral palsy (CP) may affect the development of walking. It is unclear whether or how neuromuscular control, as evaluated by muscle synergy analysis, differs in young children with CP compared to typically developing (TD) children with the same walking ability, before and after the onset of independent walking. Here we grouped twenty children with (high risk of) CP and twenty TD children (age 6.5–52.4 months) based on their walking ability, supported or independent walking. Muscle synergies were extracted from electromyography data of bilateral leg muscles using non-negative matrix factorization. Number, synergies’ structure and variability accounted for when extracting one (VAF1 ) or two (VAF2 ) synergies were compared between CP and TD. Children in the CP group recruited fewer synergies with higher VAF1 and VAF2 compared to TD children in the supported and independent walking group. The most affected side in children with asymmetric CP walking independently recruited fewer synergies with higher VAF1 compared to the least affected side. Our findings suggest that early brain lesions result in early alterations of neuromuscular control, specific for the most affected side in asymmetric CP.Biomechatronics & Human-Machine Contro