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Exp Brain Res. 2013 Jan;224(1):25-34. doi: 10.1007/s00221-012-3286-2. Epub 2012 Oct 14.

Static and dynamic visual cues in feed-forward postural control.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy (MC 898), University of Illinois at Chicago, 1919 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) play an important role in the performance of many activities requiring the maintenance of vertical posture. However, little is known about how variation in the available visual information affects generation of APAs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of different visual cues on APAs. Ten healthy young subjects were exposed to external perturbations induced at the shoulder level in standing while the level of visual information about the forthcoming perturbation was varied. The external perturbations were provided by an aluminum pendulum attached to the ceiling. The visual conditions were (1) dynamic cues (full vision and high-frequency strobe light), (2) static cues (low-frequency strobe light) and (3) no cues (eyes open in dark room). Electrical activity of the trunk and leg muscles and center of pressure displacements were recorded and quantified within the time intervals typical for APAs. The results showed that significantly larger APAs were generated in conditions with dynamic visual cues as compared to the conditions with static cues (p < 0.05). Finally, no APAs were observed in the condition where there was complete absence of any visual cues. Principal component analysis further revealed different muscle coupling patterns in the full vision and high-frequency strobe light conditions. These findings suggest the importance of using appropriate visual cues in the generation of APAs.

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