Advancing Technology for Probing theNervous System

Deciphering the body’s neural code to examine biomechanics, movement control, and assistive technologies.

The Challenge

Our challenge is to utilize new motor unit recording technologies to advance such theories.

Our Vision

We use the latest non-invasive technologies for analyzing motor unit properties developed by our team to study.

Altec has revisited classic theories of motor control that were developed primarily through animal and mathematical models, evoked potentials, or highly constrained movements. Tools have come a long way to allow empirical measurements of motor units in human subjects to investigate how well these theories hold up when acquired during functional voluntary movements."

Fundamental Control of Movement

Our brains initiate and coordinate actions through “highways” of cells, called neurons, that can receive, transform, and relay commands.

These neurons are responsible for transmitting information, such as commands for movement to our muscles, through electrical signals.

Unfortunately, neuromuscular diseases affect tens of thousands of individuals each year—including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury, among others—to degrade this brain-body connection and, in turn, prevent our muscles from receiving commands to move or function.

Neural Processing Problem

It has long been known that a specialized sensor placed on the surface of the skin can “read” the electrical activity of underlying muscles by amplifying related neural signals. This technique is called surface electromyography (sEMG).

The sEMG signal can contain contributions from dozens or even hundreds of motor units, making it difficult to detect individual motor units by the naked eye.

For decades, scientists have sought methods to reliably identify individual motor unit content within an sEMG signal. This process has been termed sEMG decomposition.