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Rev Neurosci. 2014;25(5):687-97. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2014-0011.

Autonomic contributions in postural control: a review of the evidence.


The ability to maintain balance is critical for daily activities such as walking and fall avoidance. The contemporary models of postural control emphasize the central and somatic interactions engaged in maintaining balance; however, there is emerging evidence that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) - the sympathetic division, in particular - routinely participates in postural control. The purpose of this paper is to review the evidence demonstrating the autonomic interactions in postural control. These interactions are presented in two broad categories: those that conceptualize the maintenance of postural equilibrium as a component of bodily homeostasis and those that illustrate how changes in affective states link cognitive perceptions and physiological responses (in this case, balance). The shared commonalities between postural and autonomic pathways are presented, pointing to the areas of overlap and the potential sources of the interaction. Although the specific function of autonomic engagement in postural control remains unknown, the potential roles are explored and highlight the directions for continued study.

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