Time and frequency domain analysis of electromyogram and sound myogram in the elderly

F. Esposito, A. Veicsteinas, C. Orizio, D. Malgrati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this work was to evaluate the influence of the ageing process on the time and frequency domain properties of the surface electrical and mechanical activity of muscle. In 20 healthy elderly subjects (10 men and 10 women, age range 65-78 years) and in 20 young controls, during isometric contractions of the elbow flexors in the 20%-100% range of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), estimations were made of the root mean square (rms) and the mean frequency (MF) of the power density spectrum distribution, from the surface electromyogram (EMG) and sound myogram (SMG) signals, detected at the belly of the biceps brachii muscle. Compared to the young controls, the MVC was lower in the elderly subjects (P <0.05); at the same %MVC the rms and the MF of EMG and SMG were lower (P <0.05) in elderly subjects; the rms and MF of the two signals increased as a function of the effort level in all groups. Only in the 80%-100% MVC range did the EMG-MF level off and the SMG-rms decrease; in contrast the young controls, at 80% MVC the high frequency peak in the SMG power spectrum density distribution was not present in the elderly subjects. The results for MVC and %MVC can be related to the reduction in the numbers of muscle fibres in aged subjects. In particular, the lack of fast twitch fibre motor units (MU), attaining high firing rates, might also explain the result at 80% MVC. In 80%-100% MVC range the two signals rms and MF behaviour may have been related to the end of the recruitment of larger MU with high conduction velocity, and to the further increment of MU firing rate in the biceps brachii muscle beyond 80% MVC, respectively. Thus, the coupled analysis of the EMG and SMG with force suggests that in the elderly subjects the reduction of the number of muscle fibres may have co-existed with a MU activation pattern similar to that of the young subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-510
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Ageing
  • Isometric exercise
  • Muscle sound
  • Soundmyogram
  • Surface electromyogram

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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