Muscle activation in tremor and imitated tremor

Muscle activation in tremor and imitated tremor

Background and problem statement

A common symptom in movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, is tremor. Tremor is an involuntary shaking of a body part, most commonly the hands. Differentiation between different movement disorders based on patterns of muscle activation has so far been unsuccessful. Therefore, in this study we want to take a step back and try to determine differences in muscle activation between patients with movement disorders and healthy subjects who imitate a tremor.

Our research focuses on determining underlying pathological changes and physiological mechanisms of movement disorders. The final goal is to establish an objective diagnostic system that is able to make an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of different movement disorders. For this purpose brain activity is measured using EEG and fMRI. Furthermore, EMG and accelerometers are used to record the peripheral tremor. To be able to do closed-loop system identification a robot is used for external perturbation of the hand and wrist.


The goal of this assignment is to determine differences in muscle activation between patients and healthy subjects. For this purpose muscle activity of the flexor and extensor of the wrist is recorded using surface EMG. Subjects are asked to keep with both arms outstretched in an approximately 90 degree angle with the shoulder. Healthy subjects are instructed to imitated a tremor and patients are instructed not to suppress their tremor. Currently, experiments are performed in Amsterdam (Department of Clinical Neurophysiology) in cooperation with the University of Twente and the TU Delft.



Perform a literature study on tremor


Analyze recorded data in Matlab to determine differences in muscle activation in patients and healthy subjects imitating a tremor


Discuss the results


Report writing and final presentation

Educational program



Research theme

From Neural Circuit Behaviour to Human Sensory-Motor Function

Principal Investigator track

Ciska Heida:

Central motor control

Supervision and info

Frauke Luft