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J Neurophysiol. 2007 Aug;98(2):730-43. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Postural responses evoked by platform pertubations are dominated by continuous feedback.

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  • 1Institute for Biomedical Technology, Department of Biomechanical Engineering, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. h.vanderkooij@utwente.nl


Is human balance control dominated by time invariant continuous feedback mechanisms or do noncontinuous mechanisms play a significant role like intermittent control? The goal of this paper is to quantify how much of the postural responses evoked by pseudorandom external periodic perturbations can be explained by continuous time invariant feedback control. Nine healthy subjects participated in this study. Center of mass and ankle torque responses were elicited by periodic platform perturbations in forward-backward directions containing energy in the 0.06- to 4.5-Hz frequency band. Subjects had their eyes open (EO) or eyes closed (EC). Responses were decomposed into a periodic component and a remnant (stochastic) component using spectral analysis. It is concluded that periodic responses can explain most of the evoked responses, although the remnant power spectral densities (PSDs) were significant especially for slow responses (<0.2 Hz) and largest for EC. The found remnant PSD did depend on the sensory condition but not on the platform perturbation amplitude. The ratio of the body sway and ankle torque remnant PSD reflects the body dynamics. Both findings are consistent with the idea that estimation of body orientation is part of a continuous feedback loop and that (stochastic) estimation errors increase when one source of sensory information is removed. The findings are not consistent with the idea that discrete or discontinuous intermittent feedback mechanisms significantly shape postural responses.

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