EMG & Motor Planning

1. EMG recording to measure motor planning in children.

Children who have difficulty performing new, skilled movements are often referred to occupational and physical therapy for help.  Although the apparent problem for these children is the execution of smooth motor actions, the cause of this difficulty may instead be the thinking and planning aspects of movement. Research on adults has shown that thinking about, or imagining a movement, is a critical part of motor skill.  It has also been demonstrated that motor imagery can be detected by recording covert muscle activity using EMG (electromyography) because thinking about movement and actual movement use the same neurological pathways. 

 The goal of this research project is to see if EMG can be used successfully to measure motor imagery in children, and to compare measurements of those who experience difficulty in motor skills with children who have typical skill levels. EMG recordings will be made as the participant watches the examiner perform a sequence of hand and finger movements, and after a short delay, imitates the movements.  The expectation is that typical children will have more pronounced covert muscle activity prior to executing the movements than the children with diagnosed disabilities.  This line of research can lead to the development of improved therapy approaches to motor skill deficits.

(Click below to see the PowerPoint presentation of the project's status given at Scholarship Day at the U of S.)

Carol Cote,
Jul 8, 2010, 10:56 AM