Increases in movement variability have previously been observed to be a hallmark property of cooraination changes between coupled oscillators that occur as movement frequency is scaled. Prior research on the walk-run transition in human locomotion has also demonstrated increases in variability around the transition region, supporting predictions of nonequilibrium phase transitions (Diedrich & Warren, 1995). The current study examined the coordinative patterns of both intra- and inter-limb couplings around the walk-run transition using two different temporal manipulations of locomotor velocity as a control parameter in healthy young participants (N = 11). Coordination variability did not increase before the transition. The nature of the change in continuous relative phase variability between gait modes was coupling-specific, and varying the time spent at each velocity did not have an overall effect on gait transition dynamics. Lower extremity inter-limb coordination dynamics were more sensitive to changes in treadmill velocity than intra-limb coordination. The results demonstrate the complexity of segmental coordination change in human locomotion, and question the applicability of dynamical bimanual coordination models to human gait transitions.
The authors are with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.