A practice of caution: Spontaneous action potentials or artifactual spikes?

Faezeh Jahanmiri-Nezhad, Xiaoyan Li, William Zev Rymer, Ping Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: High density surface electromyogram (EMG) techniques with electrode arrays have been used to record spontaneous muscle activity, which is important, both for supporting the diagnosis of neuromuscular diseases and for laboratory based neurophysiological investigations. This short report addresses a practical issue we have experienced during recording of spontaneous muscle activity using electrode arrays from subjects with major neuromuscular disorders. Findings: We show that recording artifacts can appear similar to spontaneous action potential spikes. Moreover, a causal filter may induce asymmetric distortions of an artifact and thus confuse it with a real action potential spike. As a consequence, for a single channel surface EMG recording, it might be difficult to judge whether a voltage transient is a real action potential or an artifact. Further investigation of the signal distributions among other channels of the array can be used to reach a more confident judgment. Conclusions: During examination of spontaneous muscle activity using electrode arrays, caution is required for differentiation of physiological signals from artifactual spikes, which is important for accurate extraction of diagnostic or investigatory information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics

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