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Momoko Yamagata, Ali Falaki and Mark L. Latash

We explored the effects of voluntary coactivation of agonist–antagonist leg and trunk muscles on stability of vertical posture. Young healthy subjects performed several tasks while standing with no additional muscle coactivation, low coactivation, and high coactivation. Postural stability was estimated using indices of postural sway and of intertrial variance in the space of muscle groups with parallel scaling of activation levels (M-modes). An increase in coactivation led to a significant increase in the postural sway speed reflected in faster rambling and trembling trajectories. Coactivation also led to a relative drop in the variance component that had no effects on the center of pressure coordinate and an increase in the component that shifted the center of pressure. We conclude that additional muscle coactivation does not help to stabilize vertical posture and is more likely to lead to postural destabilization. The results are consistent with an earlier hypothesis on muscle coactivation ensuring abundance (excessive degrees of freedom) at the level of control variables.