Regional activation within the vastus medialis in stimulated and voluntary contractions

Alessio Gallina, Tanya D. Ivanova, S. Jayne Garland

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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This study examined the contribution of muscle fiber orientation at different knee angles to regional activation identified with high-density surface electromyography (HDsEMG). Monopolar HDsEMG signals were collected using a grid of 13x5 electrodes placed over the vastus medialis (VM). Intramuscular electrical stimulation was used to selectively activate two regions within VM. The distribution of EMG responses to stimulation was obtained by calculating the amplitude of the compound action potential for each channel; the position of the peak amplitude was tracked across knee angles to describe shifts of the active muscle regions under the electrodes. In a separate experiment, regional activation was investigated in 10 knee flexion-extension movements against a fixed resistance. Intramuscular stimulation of different VM regions resulted in clear differences in amplitude distribution along the columns of the electrode grid (P < 0.001); changes in knee angle resulted in consistent shifts along the rows (P < 0.01) and negligible shifts along the columns of the electrode grid. Regional VM activation was identified in dynamic movement, with distal shifts of the EMG distribution in the eccentric phase of the movement (P < 0.05) and at more flexed knee angles (P < 0.05). HDsEMG was used to describe regional activation across the VM that was not attributable to anatomic factors. Changes in muscle fiber orientation associated with knee joint angle mainly influence the amplitude distribution along the fiber direction. Future studies are needed to understand possible functional roles for regional activation within the VM in dynamic tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-474
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • quadriceps
  • electromyography
  • muscle activation
  • stimulation
  • M wave


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