Assessing Neural Connectivity and Associated Time Delays of Muscle Responses to Continuous Position Perturbations

Runfeng Tian, Julius P.A. Dewald, Nirvik Sinha, Yuan Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both linear and nonlinear electromyographic (EMG) connectivity has been reported during the expression of stretch reflexes, though it is not clear whether they are generated by the same neural pathways. To answer this question, we aim to distinguish linear and nonlinear connectivity, as well as their delays in muscle responses, resulting from continuous elbow joint perturbations. We recorded EMG from Biceps Brachii muscle when eight able-bodied participants were performing a steady elbow flexion torque while simultaneously receiving a continuous position perturbation. Using a recently developed phase coupling metric, we estimated linear and nonlinear connectivity as well as their associated delays between Biceps EMG responses and perturbations. We found that the time delay for linear connectivity (24.5 ± 5.4 ms) is in the range of short-latency stretch reflex period (< 35 ms), while that for nonlinear connectivity (53.8 ± 3.2 ms) is in the range of long-latency stretch reflex period (40-70 ms). These results suggest that the estimated linear connectivity between EMG and perturbations is very likely generated by the mono-synaptic spinal stretch reflex loop, while the nonlinear connectivity may be associated with multi-synaptic supraspinal stretch reflex loops. As such, this study provides new evidence of the nature of neural connectivity related to the stretch reflex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-440
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • EMG
  • Functional connectivity
  • Multisine perturbations
  • Stretch reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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