Coupling between leg muscle activation and EEG during normal walking, intentional stops, and freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease

Moritz Günther, Ronny P. Bartsch, Yael Miron-Shahar, Sharon Hassin-Baer, Rivka Inzelberg, Jürgen Kurths, Meir Plotnik, Jan W. Kantelhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this paper, we apply novel techniques for characterizing leg muscle activation patterns via electromyograms (EMGs) and for relating them to changes in electroencephalogram (EEG) activity during gait experiments. Specifically, we investigate changes of leg-muscle EMG amplitudes and EMG frequencies during walking, intentional stops, and unintended freezing-of-gait (FOG) episodes. FOG is a frequent paroxysmal gait disturbance occurring in many patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD). We find that EMG amplitudes and frequencies do not change significantly during FOG episodes with respect to walking, while drastic changes occur during intentional stops. Phase synchronization between EMG signals is most pronounced during walking in controls and reduced in PD patients. By analyzing cross-correlations between changes in EMG patterns and brain-wave amplitudes (from EEGs), we find an increase in EEG-EMG coupling at the beginning of stop and FOG episodes. Our results may help to better understand the enigmatic pathophysiology of FOG, to differentiate between FOG events and other gait disturbances, and ultimately to improve diagnostic procedures for patients suffering from PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number870
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 Günther, Bartsch, Miron-Shahar, Hassin-Baer, Inzelberg, Kurths, Plotnik and Kantelhardt.


This study was supported in part by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant # 1657-16, the Israeli Ministry of Health grant # 3000-14527, and the German Israel Foundation (GIF) grant # I-1298-415.13/2015 and grant # I-1372-303.7/2016.

FundersFunder number
German Israel FoundationI-1372-303.7/2016, I-1298-415.13/2015
Israel Science Foundation1657-16
Ministry of Health, State of Israel3000-14527


    • EEG
    • EMG
    • Freezing of gait
    • Non-linear coupling
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Phase synchronization
    • Time series analysis


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