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Biol Cybern. 2003 Jun;88(6):468-96.

Possible functional roles of phase resetting during walking.

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Division of Biophysical Engineering, Department of Systems and Human Science, Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University, 1-3 Machikaneyama, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-8531, Japan.


The walking rhythm is known to show phase shift or "reset" in response to external impulsive perturbations. We tried to elucidate functional roles of the phase reset possibly used for the neural control of locomotion. To this end, a system with a double pendulum as a simplified model of the locomotor control and a model of bipedal locomotion were employed and analyzed in detail. In these models, a movement corresponding to the normal steady-state walking was realized as a stable limit cycle solution of the system. Unexpected external perturbations applied to the system can push the state point of the system away from its limit cycle, either outside or inside the basin of attraction of the limit cycle. Our mathematical analyses of the models suggested functional roles of the phase reset during walking as follows. Function 1: an appropriate amount of the phase reset for a given perturbation can contribute to relocating the system's state point outside the basin of attraction of the limit cycle back to the inside. Function 2: it can also be useful to reduce the convergence time (the time necessary for the state point to return to the limit cycle). In experimental studies during walking of animals and humans, the reset of walking rhythm induced by perturbations was investigated using the phase transition curve (PTC) or the phase resetting curve (PRC) representing phase-dependent responses of the walking. We showed, for the simple double-pendulum model, the existence of the optimal phase control and the corresponding PTC that could optimally realize the aforementioned functions in response to impulsive force perturbations. Moreover, possible forms of PRC that can avoid falling against the force perturbations were predicted by the biped model, and they were compared with the experimentally observed PRC during human walking. Finally, physiological implications of the results were discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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