A Wearable High-Resolution Facial Electromyography for Long Term Recordings in Freely Behaving Humans

Lilah Inzelberg*, David Rand, Stanislav Steinberg, Moshe David-Pur, Yael Hanein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Human facial expressions are a complex capacity, carrying important psychological and neurological information. Facial expressions typically involve the co-activation of several muscles; they vary between individuals, between voluntary versus spontaneous expressions, and depend strongly on personal interpretation. Accordingly, while high-resolution recording of muscle activation in a non-laboratory setting offers exciting opportunities, it remains a major challenge. This paper describes a wearable and non-invasive method for objective mapping of facial muscle activation and demonstrates its application in a natural setting. We focus on muscle activation associated with "enjoyment", "social" and "masked" smiles; three categories with distinct social meanings. We use an innovative, dry, soft electrode array designed specifically for facial surface electromyography recording, a customized independent component analysis algorithm, and a short training procedure to achieve the desired mapping. First, identification of the orbicularis oculi and the levator labii superioris was demonstrated from voluntary expressions. Second, the zygomaticus major was identified from voluntary and spontaneous Duchenne and non-Duchenne smiles. Finally, using a wireless device in an unmodified work environment revealed expressions of diverse emotions in face-to-face interaction. Our high-resolution and crosstalk-free mapping, along with excellent user-convenience, opens new opportunities in gaming, virtual-reality, bio-feedback and objective psychological and neurological assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2058
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


FundersFunder number
Sagol School of Neuroscience
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation1355/17
Tel Aviv University


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