Postural Adjustments during Interactions with an Active Partner

Matteo Bertucco, Francesca Nardello, Riccardo Magris, Paola Cesari, Mark L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Ensuring stability of the human vertical posture is a complex task requiring both anticipatory and compensatory postural strategies when a standing person performs fast actions and interacts with the environment, which can include other persons. How people adjust their preparatory and compensatory postural adjustments in situations when they interact with an active partner is still poorly understood. In this study we investigated the postural adjustments while two healthy persons played a traditional childhood game. While standing facing each other, they were asked to push with their hands against the hands of the opponent only, and to make the opponent to take a step. We explored strategies when pushing the opponent's hands generated perturbations to the posture of both players and when one of the players withdrew the arms to neutralize the opponent's pushing action. Electromyograms were recorded from the leg and trunk muscles and used to quantify early (EPAs), anticipatory (APAs) and compensatory (CPAs) postural adjustments, as well as the co-activation and reciprocal changes in the activity of agonist–antagonist pairs. Results showed higher indices of muscle co-activation during EPAs during the game compared to the control conditions. We found that postural preparation strategies defined whether a participant kept or lost balance during the game. Our results highlight the importance of muscle co-activation, the role of anticipation, and the difference in strategies while interacting with an active partner as compared to interactions with passive objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
StatePublished - May 21 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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