Surface Electromyography for measuring Mastication

EMGVolunteer4_websiteOver the past decade, a series of projects has supported our interest surface Electromyography (sEMG) for examining the masticatory muscles during eating.

The first step in the digestive process is chewing: by breaking food down, its effective surface area is increased, and this promotes action by enzymes in the mouth and further along the digestive tract. Our aim has been to develop sEMG as a quantitative and objective tool for measuring aspects of masticatory function. Project outcomes have been reported in a collection of journal papers and press articles. For instance, in a recent study on satiety, we used sEMG as an accurate and precise tool for recording chewing behaviours. The results, reported in Appetite, suggested that taking more chews per mouthful of food in “eat-as-much-as-you-like” meals, reduced overall calorie intake by ~12%.

Examples of our EMG data are available for download here (zipped csv text file). These data were obtained from the right-masseter muscle group in volunteers performing prescribed “chewing movements”, as reported in J. Electromyog. & Kinesiol. 13 (2) 197-207 (2003).

Watch a video introduction to our work here.


Our Publications on EMG:

OPEN ACCESS BOOK CHAPTER Kemsley E. K., Defernez M. (2012) Relating surface electromyograms of the facial muscles during mastication to the mechanical and sensory properties of foodstuffs in Applications of EMG in Clinical and Sports Medicine Intech pp329 – 358 View & download at Intech

Smit H., Kemsley E. K., Tapp H. S., Henry C. J. K.(2011) Does prolonged chewing reduce food intake? Fletcherism revisited. Appetite.

Ioannides Y., Seers J., Defernez M., Raithatha C., Howarth M. S., Smith A. C., Kemsley E. K.(2009) Electromyography of the masticatory muscles can detect variation in the mechanical and sensory properties of apples Food Quality and Preference 20 203-215Ioannides Y., Raithatha C. A.,

Howarth M. S., Defernez M., Kemsley E. K., Smith A. C. (2007) Texture analysis of red delicious apples: towards multiple measurements on individual fruit Food Quality and Preference 18 825-833

Kemsley E.K., Defernez M., Sprunt J.C., Smith A.C. (2003) Electromyographic responses to prescribed mastication. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 13 (2) 197-207. Example data available Download a subset of the data (zipped csv text format) used in this paper.

Kemsley E.K., Defernez M., Sprunt J.C., Smith A.C. (2002) Multivariate analysis of electromyographic (EMG) frequency spectra to characterise mastication Journal of Texture Studies 33 (1) 15–34 View at Wiley Online Library


Funding: Our work on sEMG has been supported by:

  • BBSRC LINK Programme (1999 – 2002)
  • BBSRC Competitive Strategic Grant (2001 – 2005)
  • BBSRC CASE (with support from Sinclair International) (2003 – 2007)