Methods for estimating the numbers of motor units in human muscles

Timothy Doherty, Zachary Simmons, Barbara O'Connell, Kevin J. Felice, Robin Conwit, K. Ming Chan, Tetsuo Komori, Timothy Brown, Daniel W. Stashuk, William F. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


After the introduction by A. J. McComas of the original method for estimating the number of motor units based on manual incremental stimulation of a motor nerve, several new techniques have been developed, designed to correct for some of the errors inherent in the original technique. These methods incorporate algorithms to adjust for alternation and, to a greater or lesser extent, automate the methods, rendering the techniques less subject to operator bias and various physiological and technical errors. This review explores the advantages and drawbacks in the multiple-point stimulation (MPS), spike-triggered averaging (STA), and decomposition-enhanced STA techniques, illustrates some of the current applications of the techniques, and explores some tantalizing prospects for new studies of motor-unit physiology in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-584
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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