Preparation to a quick whole-body action: control with referent body orientation and multi-muscle synergies

Alethéa Gomes Nardini, Sandra M.S.F. Freitas, Ali Falaki, Mark L. Latash

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4 Scopus citations


We examined the control of postural stability in preparation to a discrete, quick whole-body sway toward a target and back to the initial position. Several predictions were tested based on the theory of control with referent body orientation and the notion of multi-muscle synergies stabilizing center of pressure (COP) coordinate. Healthy, young adults performed fast, discrete whole-body motion forward-and-back and backward-and-back under visual feedback on the COP. We used two methods to assess COP stability, analysis of inter-trial variance and analysis of motor equivalence in the muscle activation space. Actions were always preceded by COP counter-movements. Backward COP shifts were faster, and the indices of multi-muscle synergies stabilizing COP were higher prior to those actions. Patterns of muscle activation at the motion onset supported the idea of a gradual shift in the referent body orientation. Prior to the backward movements, there was a trend toward higher muscle co-activation, compared to reciprocal activation. We found strong correlations between the sets of indices of motor equivalence and those of inter-trial variance. Overall, the results support the theory of control with referent coordinates and the idea of multi-muscle synergies stabilizing posture by confirming a number of non-trivial predictions based on these concepts. The findings favor using indices of motor equivalence in clinical studies to minimize the number of trials performed by each subject.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalExperimental Brain Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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