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Trends Cogn Sci. 2000 Jul;4(7):279-88.

Aspects of body self-calibration.

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  • 1Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory, Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454, USA.


The representation of body orientation and configuration is dependent on multiple sources of afferent and efferent information about ongoing and intended patterns of movement and posture. Under normal terrestrial conditions, we feel virtually weightless and we do not perceive the actual forces associated with movement and support of our body. It is during exposure to unusual forces and patterns of sensory feedback during locomotion that computations and mechanisms underlying the ongoing calibration of our body dimensions and movements are revealed. This review discusses the normal mechanisms of our position sense and calibration of our kinaesthetic, visual and auditory sensory systems, and then explores the adaptations that take place to transient Coriolis forces generated during passive body rotation. The latter are very rapid adaptations that allow body movements to become accurate again, even in the absence of visual feedback. Muscle spindle activity interpreted in relation to motor commands and internally modeled reafference is an important component in permitting this adaptation. During voluntary rotary movements of the body, the central nervous system automatically compensates for the Coriolis forces generated by limb movements. This allows accurate control to be maintained without our perceiving the forces generated.

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