Frequency- and time-domain FEM models of EMG: Capacitive effects and aspects of dispersion

Nikolay S. Stoykov*, Madeleine M. Lowery, Allen Taflove, Todd A. Kuiken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Electromyography (EMG) simulations have traditionally been based on purely resistive models, in which capacitive effects are assumed to be negligible. Recent experimental studies suggest these assumptions may not be valid for muscle tissue. Furthermore, both muscle conductivity and permittivity are frequency-dependent (dispersive). In this paper, frequency-domain and time-domain finite-element models are used to examine the impact of capacitive effects and dispersion on the surface potential of a volume conductor. The results indicate that the effect of muscle capacitance and dispersion varies dramatically. Choosing low conductivity and high permittivity values in the range of experimentally reported data for muscle can cause displacement currents that are larger than conduction currents with corresponding reduction in surface potential of up to 50% at 100 Hz. Conductivity and permittivity values lying toward the middle of the reported range yield results which do not differ notably from purely resistive models. Also, excluding dispersion can also cause large error-up to 75 % in the high frequency range of the EMG. It is clear that there is a need to establish accurate values of both conductivity and permittivity for human muscle tissue in vivo in order to quantify the influence of capacitance and dispersion on the EMG signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-772
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002


  • EMG
  • Finite-element methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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