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Optimal placement of bipolar surface EMG electrodes in the face based on single motor unit analysis


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of this project by the Facio-Scapulo Humerale Vorm van Spierdystrofie–Stichting (The Netherlands) and the German Orthodontic Society.

Address reprint requests to: Prof. Dr. Bernd Lapatki, Department of Orthodontics, Ulm University Medical Centre, Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, D-89081 Ulm, Germany. E-mail:


Locations of surface electromyography (sEMG) electrodes in the face are usually chosen on a macro-anatomical basis. In this study we describe optimal placement of bipolar electrodes based on a novel method and present results for lower facial muscles. We performed high-density sEMG recordings in 13 healthy participants. Raw sEMG signals were decomposed into motor unit action potentials (MUAPs). We positioned virtual electrode pairs in the interpolated monopolar MUAPs at different positions along muscle fiber direction and calculated the bipolar potentials. Electrode sites were determined where maximal bipolar amplitude was achieved and were validated. Objective guidelines for sEMG electrode placement improve the signal-to-noise ratio and may contribute to reduce cross talk, which is particularly important in the face. The method may be regarded as an important basis for improving the validity and reproducibility of sEMG in complex muscle areas.