Time and frequency domain responses of the mechanomyogram and electromyogram during isometric ramp contractions: A comparison of the short-time Fourier and continuous wavelet transforms

Eric D. Ryan, Joel T. Cramer, Alison D. Egan, Michael J. Hartman, Trent J. Herda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were to examine the mechanomyographic (MMG) and electromyographic (EMG) time and frequency domain responses of the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles during isometric ramp contractions and compare the time-frequency of the MMG and EMG signals generated by the short-time Fourier transform (STFT) and continuous wavelet transform (CWT). Nineteen healthy subjects (mean ± SD age = 24 ± 4 years) performed two isometric maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs) before and after completing 2-3, 6-s isometric ramp contractions from 5% to 100% MVC with the right leg extensors. MMG and surface EMG signals were recorded from the VL and RF muscles. Time domains were represented as root mean squared amplitude values, and time-frequency representations were generated using the STFT and CWT. Polynomial regression analyses indicated cubic increases in MMG amplitude, MMG frequency, and EMG frequency, whereas EMG amplitude increased quadratically. From 5% to 24-28% MVC, MMG amplitude remained stable while MMG frequency increased. From 24-28% to 76-78% MVC, MMG amplitude increased rapidly while MMG frequency plateaued. From 76-78% to 100% MVC, MMG amplitude plateaued (VL) or decreased (RF) while MMG frequency increased. EMG amplitude increased while EMG frequency changed only marginally across the force spectrum with no clear deflection points. Overall, these findings suggested that MMG may offer more unique information regarding the interactions between motor unit recruitment and firing rate that control muscle force production during ramp contractions than traditional surface EMG. In addition, although the STFT frequency patterns were more pronounced than the CWT, both algorithms produced similar time-frequency representations for tracking changes in MMG or EMG frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2008



  • EMG
  • MMG
  • Motor unit firing rate
  • Motor unit recruitment
  • Rate coding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Biophysics
  • Clinical Neurology

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