Identification of regional activation by factorization of high-density surface EMG signals: a comparison of Principal Component Analysis and Non-negative Matrix factorization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


In this study, we investigated whether principal component analysis (PCA) and non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) perform similarly for the identification of regional activation within the human vastus medialis. EMG signals from 64 locations over the VM were collected from twelve participants while performing a low-force isometric knee extension. The envelope of the EMG signal of each channel was calculated by low-pass filtering (8 Hz) the monopolar EMG signal after rectification. The data matrix was factorized using PCA and NMF, and up to 5 factors were considered for each algorithm. Association between explained variance, spatial weights and temporal scores between the two algorithms were compared using Pearson correlation. For both PCA and NMF, a single factor explained approximately 70% of the variance of the signal, while two and three factors explained just over 85% or 90%. The variance explained by PCA and NMF was highly comparable (R > 0.99). Spatial weights and temporal scores extracted with non-negative reconstruction of PCA and NMF were highly associated (all p < 0.001, mean R > 0.97). Regional VM activation can be identified using high-density surface EMG and factorization algorithms. Regional activation explains up to 30% of the variance of the signal, as identified through both PCA and NMF.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • EMG, Factorization, Regionalization, Quadriceps, Vastus, Neuromuscular control