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A basic posture control mechanism: the stabilization of the centre of gravity.

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Department of Clinical Neurology and Neurophysiology, University of Freiburg, F.R.G.


Holding the body's centre of gravity steady represents the crucial variable for the stabilization of posture in upright stance in man. The visual, vestibular and muscle proprioceptive systems have all been shown to contribute to sway stabilization. Nevertheless, earlier work has suggested that an additional receptor system is needed to signal the position of the body's centre of gravity relative to the support surface, i.e., the feet. This proposed receptor system should be 'gravity' dependent. To evaluate the properties of this receptor system, an experiment was designed under simulated 'microgravity', in water immersion. An approximately linear relationship was found between contact force and impulse directed EMG response amplitudes in the leg muscles. Out of water loading of the subjects resulted in no further increase of the response amplitude. A gain control mechanism for postural reflexes which is dependent on body weight was demonstrated. In a further experiment it could be shown that the receptors for this mechanism are distributed along the vertical axis of the body: it is suggested that these force-dependent receptors are pressure receptors within the joints and the vertebral column.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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