Influence of fatigue on hand muscle coordination and EMG-EMG coherence during three-digit grasping

Alessander Danna Dos Santos, Brach Poston, Mark Jesunathadas, Lisa R. Bobich, Thomas M. Hamm, Marco Santello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Fingertip force control requires fine coordination of multiple hand muscles within and across the digits. While the modulation of neural drive to hand muscles as a function of force has been extensively studied, much less is known about the effects of fatigue on the coordination of simultaneously active hand muscles. We asked eight subjects to perform a fatiguing contraction by gripping a manipulandum with thumb, index, and middle fingers while matching an isometric target force (40% maximal voluntary force) for as long as possible. The coordination of 12 hand muscles was quantified as electromyographic (EMG) muscle activation pattern (MAP) vector and EMG-EMG coherence. We hypothesized that muscle fatigue would cause uniform changes in EMG amplitudeacross all muscles and an increase in EMG-EMG coherence in the higher frequency bands but with an invariant heterogeneous distribution across muscles. Muscle fatigue caused a 12.5% drop in the maximum voluntary contraction force (P < 0.05) at task failure and an increase in the SD of force (P < 0.01). Although EMG amplitude of all muscles increased during the fatiguing contraction (P < 0.001), the MAP vector orientation did not change, indicating that a similar muscle coordination pattern was used throughout the fatiguing contraction. Last, EMG-EMG coherence (0-35 Hz) was significantly greater at the end than at the beginning of the fatiguing contraction (P < 0.01) but was heterogeneously distributed across hand muscles. These findings suggest that similar mechanisms are involved for modulating and sustaining digit forces in nonfatiguing and fatiguing contractions, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3576-3587
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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