The purpose of the current study was to understand how visual information about an ongoing change in obstacle size is used during obstacle avoidance for both lead and trail limbs. Participants were required to walk in a dark room and to step over an obstacle edged with a special tape visible in the dark. The obstacle’s dimensions were manipulated one step before obstacle clearance by increasing or decreasing its size. Two increasing and two decreasing obstacle conditions were combined with seven control static conditions. Results showed that information about the obstacle’s size was acquired and used to modulate trail limb trajectory, but had no effect on lead limb trajectory. The adaptive step was influenced by the time available to acquire and process visual information. In conclusion, visual information about obstacle size acquired during lead limb crossing was used in a feedforward manner to modulate trail limb trajectory.
Keywords: obstacle avoidance, human locomotion, feedforward adjustment