Computing motor unit number index of the first dorsal interosseous muscle with two different contraction tasks

Ping Zhou*, Xiaoyan Li, William Zev Rymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Motor unit number index (MUNIX) is a recently developed novel neurophysiological technique providing an index proportional to the number of motor units in a muscle. The MUNIX is derived from maximum M wave and voluntary surface electromyogram (EMG) recordings. The objective of this study was to address a practical question for computing MUNIX in the first dorsal interosseous (FDI), a multifunctional muscle that generates torque about the second metacarpophalangeal joint, i.e., how will different lines of muscle activation influence its MUNIX estimates? To address this question, the MUNIX technique was applied in the FDI muscle of 15 neurologically intact subjects, using surface EMG signals from index finger abduction and flexion, respectively, while the maximum M wave remained the same. Across all subjects, the average MUNIX value of the FDI muscle was 228 ± 45 for index finger abduction, slightly smaller than the MUNIX estimate of 251 ± 56 for index finger flexion. Different FDI muscle activation patterns resulted in an approximately 10% difference in MUNIX estimates. The findings from this study suggest that appropriate definition of voluntary activation of the FDI muscle should be kept to ensure consistency in measurements and avoid source of error. The current study is limited by only assessing neurologically intact muscles. It is important to perform a similar analysis for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), given that ALS is the primary intention of the MUNIX method as a potential follow-up measurement for motor unit loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1212
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Multifunctional muscle
  • Surface EMG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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