Limitations and applications of ICA for surface electromyogram

D. Djuwari, D. K. Kumar, Ganesh R. Naik, S. P. Arjunan, M. Palaniswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Surface electromyogram (SEMG) has numerous applications, but the presence of artefacts and noise, especially at low level of muscle activity make the recordings unreliable. Spectral and temporal overlap can make the removal of artefacts and noise, or separation of relevant signals from other bioelectric signals extremely difficult. Individual muscles may be considered as independent at the local level and this makes an argument for separating the signals using independent component analysis (ICA). In the recent past, due to the easy availability of ICA tools, numbers of researchers have attempted to use ICA for this application. This paper reports research conducted to evaluate the use of ICA for the separation of muscle activity and removal of the artefacts from SEMG. It discusses some of the conditions that could affect the reliability of the separation and evaluates issues related to the properties of the signals and number of sources. The paper also identifies the lack of suitable measure of quality of separation for bioelectric signals and it recommends and tests a more robust measure of separation. The paper also reports tests using Zibulevsky's technique of temporal plotting to identify number of independent sources in SEMG recordings. The theoretical analysis and experimental results demonstrate that ICA is suitable for SEMG signals. The results identify the unsuitability of ICA when the number of sources is greater than the number of recording channels. The results also demonstrate the limitations of such applications due to the inability of the system to identify the correct order and magnitude of the signals. The paper determines the suitability of the use of error measure using simulated mixing matrix and the estimated unmixing matrix as a means identifying the quality of separation of the output. The work demonstrates that even at extremely low level of muscle contraction, and with filtering using wavelets and band pass filters, it is not possible to get the data sparse enough to identify number of independent sources using's technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-309
Number of pages15
JournalElectromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Blind Source Separation (BSS)
  • Independent Component Analysis (ICA)
  • Motor Action Potential (MUAP)
  • Probalility Density Function (PDF)
  • Surface Electromyogram (SEMG)


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