Electromyogram (EMG) Removal by Adding Sources of EMG (ERASE)—A Novel ICA-Based Algorithm for Removing Myoelectric Artifacts From EEG

Yongcheng Li*, Po T. Wang, Mukta P. Vaidya, Robert D. Flint, Charles Y. Liu, Marc W. Slutzky, An H. Do*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings are often contaminated by electromyographic (EMG) artifacts, especially when recording during movement. Existing methods to remove EMG artifacts include independent component analysis (ICA), and other high-order statistical methods. However, these methods can not effectively remove most of EMG artifacts. Here, we proposed a modified ICA model for EMG artifacts removal in the EEG, which is called EMG Removal by Adding Sources of EMG (ERASE). In this new approach, additional channels of real EMG from neck and head muscles (reference artifacts) were added as inputs to ICA in order to “force” the most power from EMG artifacts into a few independent components (ICs). The ICs containing EMG artifacts (the “artifact ICs”) were identified and rejected using an automated procedure. ERASE was validated first using both simulated and experimentally-recorded EEG and EMG. Simulation results showed ERASE removed EMG artifacts from EEG significantly more effectively than conventional ICA. Also, it had a low false positive rate and high sensitivity. Subsequently, EEG was collected from 8 healthy participants while they moved their hands to test the realistic efficacy of this approach. Results showed that ERASE successfully removed EMG artifacts (on average, about 75% of EMG artifacts were removed when using real EMGs as reference artifacts) while preserving the expected EEG features related to movement. We also tested the ERASE procedure using simulated EMGs as reference artifacts (about 63% of EMG artifacts removed). Compared to conventional ICA, ERASE removed on average 26% more EMG artifacts from EEG. These findings suggest that ERASE can achieve significant separation of EEG signal and EMG artifacts without a loss of the underlying EEG features. These results indicate that using additional real or simulated EMG sources can increase the effectiveness of ICA in removing EMG artifacts from EEG. Combined with automated artifact IC rejection, ERASE also minimizes potential user bias. Future work will focus on improving ERASE so that it can also be used in real-time applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number597941
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021


  • EEG
  • EMG artifacts
  • ICA
  • artifact removal
  • blind source separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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