Three-layer volume conductor model and software package for applications in surface electromyography

Ann Biomed Eng. 2002 Apr;30(4):566-77. doi: 10.1114/1.1475345.


On comparing multichannel surface electromyographic measurements of the m. biceps brachii with simulations performed with a previously developed two-layer volume conduction model, we found substantial discrepancies. To incorporate an apparent distorting effect of the skin tissue, the model was extended to three layers. This new model describes the potential resulting from an eccentric bioelectric source in a finite, cylindrical, and anisotropic volume conductor consisting of three layers, representing muscle, subcutaneous fat, and skin tissue. This contribution presents the governing mathematical equations of the three-layer volume conductor model as well as our approach to their solution. A comparison of various models shows that the three-layer model best describes measured potential distributions. Furthermore, we present the "ANVOLCON" (analytical volume conductor) software package. This package has been developed to facilitate the use of the model for scientific and educational purposes and is freely available from

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Arm / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Electrophysiology / methods
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Software