The role of muscle synergies in myoelectric control: Trends and challenges for simultaneous multifunction control

Mark Ison, Panagiotis Artemiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

77 Scopus citations


Myoelectric control is filled with potential to significantly change human-robot interaction due to the ability to non-invasively measure human motion intent. However, current control schemes have struggled to achieve the robust performance that is necessary for use in commercial applications. As demands in myoelectric control trend toward simultaneous multifunctional control, multi-muscle coordinations, or synergies, play larger roles in the success of the control scheme. Detecting and refining patterns in muscle activations robust to the high variance and transient changes associated with surface electromyography is essential for efficient, user-friendly control. This article reviews the role of muscle synergies in myoelectric control schemes by dissecting each component of the scheme with respect to associated challenges for achieving robust simultaneous control of myoelectric interfaces. Electromyography recording details, signal feature extraction, pattern recognition and motor learning based control schemes are considered, and future directions are proposed as steps toward fulfilling the potential of myoelectric control in clinically and commercially viable applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number051001
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014



  • EMG
  • brain-machine interfaces
  • muscle synergies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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