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J Physiol. 2001 Nov 15;537(Pt 1):313-27.

Visual and non-visual control of landing movements in humans.

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Motor Control Laboratory, Department of Exercise Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA.


1. The role of vision in controlling leg muscle activation in landing from a drop was investigated. Subjects (n = 8) performed 10 drops from four heights (0.2, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 m) with and without vision. Drop height was maintained constant throughout each block of trials to allow adaptation. The aim of the study was to assess the extent to which proprioceptive and vestibular information could substitute for the lack of vision in adapting landing movements to different heights. 2. At the final stages of the movement, subjects experienced similar peak centre of body mass (CM) displacements and joint rotations, regardless of the availability of vision. This implies that subjects were able to adapt the control of landing to different heights. The amplitude and timing of electromyographic signals from the leg muscles scaled to drop height in a similar fashion with and without vision. 3. However, variables measured throughout the execution of the movement indicated important differences. Without vision, landings were characterised by 10 % larger ground reaction forces, 10 % smaller knee joint rotations, different time lags between peak joint rotations, and more variable ground reaction forces and times to peak CM displacement. 4. We conclude that non-visual sensory information (a) could not fully compensate for the lack of continuous visual feedback and (b) this non-visual information was used to reorganise the motor output. These results suggest that vision is important for the very accurate timing of muscle activity onset and the kinematics of landing.

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