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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2007;114(10):1279-96. Epub 2007 Jun 8.

Cognitive demands and cortical control of human balance-recovery reactions.

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Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.


A traditional view has been that balance control occurs at a very automatic level, primarily involving the spinal cord and brainstem; however, there is growing evidence that the cerebral cortex and cognitive processing are involved in controlling specific aspects of balance. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent literature pertaining to the cognitive demands and cortical control of balance-recovery reactions, focussing on five emerging sources of evidence: 1) dual-task studies demonstrating that concurrent performance of cognitive and balance-recovery tasks leads to interference effects; 2) dual-task studies that have examined the temporal dynamics associated with the reallocation of cognitive resources to the balance-recovery task; 3) visual attention studies that have inferred contributions of visual attention based on gaze measurements and/or manipulations to occlude vision; 4) measurements of brain potentials evoked by postural perturbation; and 5) use of transcranial magnetic stimulation to alter contributions from specific cortical areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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