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Brain Res Bull. 2004 Mar 15;63(2):161-5.

Attentional demand for regulating postural sway: the effect of expertise in gymnastics.

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Laboratoire Sport et Performance Motrice, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France.


A dual-task paradigm was used to investigate whether the expertise in motor skills requiring a fine postural control can modify the attentional demand necessary for regulating postural sway. Seven expert gymnasts and seven experts in other non-gymnastic sports were asked to respond as rapidly as possible to an unpredictable auditory stimulus while maintaining stable seated and in three upright postures of increasing difficulty: bipedal, unipedal, and unipedal on an unstable support (i.e. a 7 cm thick foam surface). RT values were used as an index of the attentional demand necessary for performing the postural tasks. Results showed that the attentional demand necessary for regulating postural sway increased as the postural task increased in difficulty. Interestingly, this effect was smaller for the gymnasts during unipedal stance. These findings suggest a decreased dependency on attentional processes for regulating postural sway during unipedal stance in gymnasts with respect to non-gymnasts.

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