2021-03-17Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/23501
Standing on unstable surface challenges postural control of tracking tasks and modulates neuromuscular adjustments specific to task complexity
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Understanding the modulations of motor control in the presence of perturbations in task conditions of varying complexity is a key element towards the design of effective perturbation-based balance exercise programs. In this study we investigated the effect of mechanical perturbations, induced by an unstable surface, on muscle activation and visuo-postural coupling, when actively tracking target motion cues of different complexity. Four postural tasks following a visual oscillating target of varying target complexity (periodic-sinusoidal vs. chaotic-Lorenz) and surface (stable-floor vs. unstable-foam) were performed. The electromyographic activity of the main plantarflexor and dorsiflexor muscles was captured. The coupling between sway and target was assessed through spectral analysis and the system’s local dynamic stability through the short-term maximum Lyapunov exponent. We found that external perturbations increased local instability and deteriorated visuo-motor coupling. Visuo-motor deterioration was greater for the chaotic target, implying that the effect of the induced perturbations depends on target complexity. There was a modulation of the neuromotor system towards amplification of muscle activity and coactivation to compensate surface-related perturbations and to ensure robust motor control. Our findings provide evidence that, in the presence of perturbations, target complexity induces specific modulations in the neuromotor system while controlling balance and posture.
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This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.