Facial EMG sensing for monitoring affect using a wearable device

Sci Rep. 2022 Oct 7;12(1):16876. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-21456-1.


Using a novel wearable surface electromyography (sEMG), we investigated induced affective states by measuring the activation of facial muscles traditionally associated with positive (left/right orbicularis and left/right zygomaticus) and negative expressions (the corrugator muscle). In a sample of 38 participants that watched 25 affective videos in a virtual reality environment, we found that each of the three variables examined-subjective valence, subjective arousal, and objective valence measured via the validated video types (positive, neutral, and negative)-sEMG amplitude varied significantly depending on video content. sEMG aptitude from "positive muscles" increased when participants were exposed to positively valenced stimuli compared with stimuli that was negatively valenced. In contrast, activation of "negative muscles" was elevated following exposure to negatively valenced stimuli compared with positively valenced stimuli. High arousal videos increased muscle activations compared to low arousal videos in all the measured muscles except the corrugator muscle. In line with previous research, the relationship between sEMG amplitude as a function of subjective valence was V-shaped.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Face / physiology
  • Facial Expression
  • Facial Muscles* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Wearable Electronic Devices*