With previous surface electromyography (sEMG) electrodes it has been difficult to combine small outer dimensions and secure skin attachment. We resolved this problem by developing a new skin attachment technique that yields firm electrode fixation without requiring an acrylic housing. Consequently, we could reduce the outer electrode dimensions to 4-mm diameter and only 1.5-mm thickness. In a bipolar montage, this electrode allows an inter-electrode distance of 8 mm. This improves measurement selectivity and, because of the small dimensions, makes possible the non-invasive observation of multiple facial muscles with a minimum of obstruction. Our new technique was tested on a group of 11 professional trumpeters. They were instructed to perform a series of muscle-specific facial poses and to play exercises on their instruments while EMG signals were recorded simultaneously from seven different perioral muscles. Although the skin attachment was subjected to high stress during trumpet playing, more than 98% of electrode placements yielded a secure mechanical and electrical connection. Muscle selectivity of the signals recorded during the facial poses was similar to that obtained in a previous investigation using intra-muscular fine-wire electrodes. Crosstalk in the perioral area was estimated to be lower than 25%. The availability of an unobstructive sEMG electrode for simultaneously observing multiple facial muscles opens up a wide range of applications (e.g. in speech research, psychophysiology and orthodontics). © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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