Effects of surface EMG rectification on power and coherence analyses: an EEG and MEG study

J Neurosci Methods. 2007 Jan 30;159(2):215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2006.07.008. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


Coherence between electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) is frequently examined to gain insights on neuromuscular binding. Commonly, EMG signals are rectified before coherence is computed. However, the appropriateness of EMG rectification in computing EMG-EEG/MEG coherence has never been validated. Since rectification is a non-linear operation and alters the EMG power spectrum, such a validation is important to ensure the accuracy of coherence calculation. In this study we experimentally investigated the effects of EMG rectification on EMG power spectra and its coherence with EEG/MEG signals. Subjects performed sustained isometric index finger abduction at approximately 5-10% maximal voluntary force (in both EEG-EMG and MEG-EMG experiments) and index finger tapping at approximately 2-4Hz (in EEG-EMG experiment only). Bipolar surface EMG data from the first dorsal interosseus (FDI) and EEG/MEG signals from the contralateral primary sensorimotor area (C3) were recorded simultaneously. Power spectra and coherence with the EEG/MEG were calculated before and after EMG rectification. The results show that rectification shifts EMG power to lower frequencies, possibly enhancing peaks of motor unit firing. Coherences with the EEG/MEG signals were not significantly changed by EMG rectification, indicating EMG rectification is overall an appropriate procedure in power and coherence analyses.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Electromyography / standards*
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results