Tuning of Muscle Synergies During Walking Along Rectilinear and Curvilinear Trajectories in Humans

Noelia Chia Bejarano, Alessandra Pedrocchi, Antonio Nardone, Marco Schieppati, Walter Baccinelli, Marco Monticone, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Simona Ferrante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to develop a methodology based on muscle synergies to investigate whether rectilinear and curvilinear walking shared the same neuro-motor organization, and how this organization was fine-tuned by the walking condition. Thirteen healthy subjects walked on rectilinear and curvilinear paths. Electromyographic data from thirteen back and lower-limb muscles were acquired, together with kinematic data using inertial sensors. Four macroscopically invariant muscle synergies, extracted through non-negative matrix factorization, proved a shared modular organization across conditions. The fine-tuning of muscle synergies was studied through non-negative matrix reconstruction, applied by fixing muscle weights or activation profiles to those of the rectilinear condition. The activation profiles tended to be recruited for a longer period and with a larger amplitude during curvilinear walking. The muscles of the posterior side of the lower limb were those mainly influenced by the fine-tuning, with the muscles inside the rotation path being more active than the outer muscles. This study shows that rectilinear and curvilinear walking share a unique motor command. However, a fine-tuning in muscle synergies is introduced during curvilinear conditions, adapting the kinematic strategy to the new biomechanical needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1218
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • Curvilinear walking
  • Electromyography
  • Locomotion
  • Muscle synergies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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