Proportional Myoelectric Control of Robots: Muscle Synergy Development Drives Performance Enhancement, Retainment, and Generalization

Mark Ison, Panagiotis Artemiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Proportional myoelectric control has been proposed for user-friendly interaction with prostheses, orthoses, and new human-machine interfaces. Recent research has stressed intuitive controls that mimic human intentions. However, these controls have limited accuracy and functionality, resulting in user-specific decoders with upper-bound constraints on performance. Thus, myoelectric controls have yet to realize their potential as a natural interface between humans and multifunctional robotic controls. This study supports a shift in myoelectric control schemes toward proportional simultaneous controls learned through the development of unique muscle synergies. A multiple day study reveals natural emergence of a new muscle synergy space as subjects identify the system dynamics of a myoelectric interface. These synergies correlate with long-term learning, increasing performance over consecutive days. Synergies are maintained after one week, helping subjects retain efficient control and generalize performance to new tasks. The extension to robot control is also demonstrated with a robot arm performing reach-to-grasp tasks in a plane. The ability to enhance, retain, and generalize control, without needing to recalibrate or retrain the system, supports control schemes promoting synergy development, not necessarily user-specific decoders trained on a subset of existing synergies, for efficient myoelectric interfaces designed for long-term use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7060707
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Electromyography
  • human-robot interaction
  • motor learning
  • myoelectric control
  • real-time systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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