Synergies Stabilizing Vertical Posture in Spaces of Control Variables

Mauro Nardon, Francesco Pascucci, Paola Cesari, Matteo Bertucco, Mark L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this study, we address the question: Can the central nervous system stabilize vertical posture in the abundant space of neural commands? We assume that the control of vertical posture is associated with setting spatial referent coordinates (RC) for the involved muscle groups, which translates into two basic commands, reciprocal and co-activation. We explored whether the two commands co-varied across trials to stabilize the initial postural state. Young, healthy participants stood quietly against an external horizontal load and were exposed to smooth unloading episodes. Linear regression between horizontal force and center of mass coordinate during the unloading phase was computed to define the intercept (RC) and slope (apparent stiffness, k). Hyperbolic regression between the intercept and slope across unloading episodes and randomization analysis both demonstrated high indexes of co-variation stabilizing horizontal force in the initial state. Higher co-variation indexes were associated with lower average k values across the participants suggesting destabilizing effects of muscle coactivation. Analysis of deviations in the {RC; k} space keeping the posture unchanged (motor equivalent) between two states separated by a voluntary quick body sway showed significantly larger motor equivalent deviations compared to non-motor equivalent ones. This is the first study demonstrating posture-stabilizing synergies in the space of neural control variables using various computational methods. It promises direct applications to studies of postural disorders and rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Sep 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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