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Neurosci Lett. 2012 Apr 18;514(2):185-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.02.089. Epub 2012 Mar 5.

Spike shape analysis of surface electromyographic activity in wrist flexor and extensor muscles of the world's fastest drummer.

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Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Spike shape analysis (SSA) is a method to infer motor unit (MU) activity by examining interference pattern of surface electromyography (sEMG). SSA has succeeded to assess neuromuscular adaptations after dynamic training; however, it has not been used to assess muscle activities during the dynamic movements as seen in music performance. The present study used SSA to investigate sEMG activities of wrist flexor and extensor muscles in the winner of a contest to find the world's fastest drummer (WFD) during performing rhythmic wrist flexion/extension movements with one hand using a handheld drumstick. SSA measures of the WFD were compared with those in the two control groups: non-drummers (NDs) and ordinary drummers (ODs). We found that the WFD showed significantly high mean spike frequency (MSF), short mean spike duration (MSD), and small mean number of peaks per spike (MNPPS) compared with the control groups. These results suggest that the WFD had exceptional MU activity such as higher MU discharge rate, more MU recruitment, and/or higher MU synchronization to achieve extraordinary fast 10-Hz drumming performance. SSA will be useful to investigate the muscle activity seen in music performance.

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