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Raquel Carvalho, Olga Vasconcelos, Pedro Gonçalves, Filipe Conceição and João Paulo Vilas-Boas

Exercise seems to attenuate the postural control system and anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) decline, but no conclusive findings are available. This study analyses, in elderly people, the exercise effect in APAs during the raising of a load with both arms in the sagittal plane. Twenty eight males over the age of 60 (65,8 ± 4,07 yr old)—9 veterans in exercising, 9 who exercise recently, and 10 sedentary—were asked to raise a load with both arms simultaneously to shoulder level, in standing position, as fast as possible. It was studied the electromyography (EMG) pattern of the main muscles. The APAs were quantified through the time integral of EMG records (iEMG). Anticipatory changes in the postural muscles were seen in all groups. We observed, in the tibialis anterior activity, a higher significant activation in the sedentary compared with the other groups, suggesting that exercise can modulate the postural control system.

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Alexander S. Aruin

A number of factors are likely to play a major role in the process of generation of anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs). Among them are the magnitude and direction of an expected perturbation, properties of a voluntary action associated with the perturbation, and features of the postural task such as a body's configuration prior to the action. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of body configuration on APAs. Experiments were performed on 8 healthy subjects performing fast bilateral shoulder extension movements while standing. Body configuration was modified by instructions to the subjects to stand vertically or with a forward upper body bend varying from 15 to 60°. The electrical activity of postural muscles and displacements of the center of pressure were recorded. Results indicated that APAs were modified with changes in the angular position of the upper body. Decreased anticipatory activation was seen in rectus abdominis and rectus femoris, while increased anticipatory inhibition was observed in erecteor spinae and biceps femoris across conditions with forward bend. As a result, the total anticipatory activity of muscles in a muscle pair in series with a forward bend showed only slight modulation as compared to vertical posture. These results suggest that the CNS uses reorganization of the anticipatory activity of postural muscles by compensating for the changes in APAs of individual muscles in a muscle pair in such a way that the overall anticipatory activity of the muscle pair stays unchanged. Such compensation in counteracting the expected mechanical effects of the perturbation is used to accommodate both changes in the length of postural muscles and diminished stability of the body due to forward bend.

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Nabil Ilmane and Jacques LaRue

The aim of this experiment was to explore the behavioral effects of various temporal pressures on the anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) in a complex task. Eighteen handball players performed a handball direct throw in three conditions of temporal pressure: (1) a reactive condition (RC), the throw was initiated as quickly as possible following a visual stimulus; (2) an anticipation-coincidence condition (AC), by synchronizing the impact of the ball with the passage of a visual mobile on a target; and (3) a self-initiated (SI) throw. The whole-body postural oscillation and the acceleration of the wrist were measured before and during the throwing action. Results showed that the delays between the onsets of the postural and focal activities were significantly different between RC and both the SI and the AC conditions. Movement time, time to peaks (negative and positive), are shorter in the RC, intermediate in the AC, and longer in the SI condition. Variability was significantly larger in AC in comparison with RC and SI. These results support the existence of different control modes triggered by the temporal pressure; they demonstrate that these control modes can be generalized to complex intentional movements such as the throwing skill and to an anticipation-coincidence situation.

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Etem Curuk, Yunju Lee and Alexander S. Aruin

While maintaining vertical posture, the central nervous system (CNS) uses two main types of adjustments in the activity of the leg and trunk muscles when dealing with body perturbations. Anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) control the position of the center of mass of the body by activating

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Eric Yiou, Malha Mezaour and Serge Le Bozec

This study investigated how young healthy subjects control their equilibrium in situations of instability specifically elicited by a reduced capacity of force production in the postural muscle system. Ten subjects displaced a bar forward with both hands at maximal velocity toward a target while standing on the dominant leg (UNID), on the nondominant leg (UNIND), or on both legs. In each stance condition, anticipatory postural adjustments (APAs) were elicited. Along the anteroposterior axis, APAs were two-times longer in UNID and UNIND than in bipedal stance, while the anticipatory inertia forces remained equivalent. The focal performance was maintained without any additive postural perturbation. A small effect of leg dominance could be detected on APAs along the mediolateral axis (i.e., anticipatory inertia forces were higher in UNIND than in UNID). These results stress the adaptability of the central nervous system to the instability specifically elicited by reduced postural muscle system efficiency.

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Hiroshige Tateuchi, Noriaki Ichihashi, Masahiro Shinya and Shingo Oda

Patients with hip osteoarthritis (OA) have difficulty with mediolateral postural control. Since the symptom of hip OA includes joint pain, which mostly occurs upon initial movement, patients with hip OA might have disabling problems with movement initiation. This study aimed to identify the movement strategy during the anticipatory postural adjustments in the lateral step motion in patients with hip OA. We studied 18 female subjects with unilateral hip OA and 10 healthy subjects, and measured temporal, kinetic, and kinematic variables. Patients with hip OA required a longer duration of anticipation phase than the control subjects, the total duration of lateral stepping was not different between the groups. Displacement of the center of mass to the supporting (affected) side during the anticipation phase was not different between the two groups. These findings suggest that, in patients with hip OA, the center of mass slowly moved to the affected side. Furthermore, patients with hip OA showed greater shift of the trunk to the supporting side than did the control subjects. These movement characteristics might contribute to the achievement of both protection of the affected hip joint and quickness in the subsequent lateral step in patients with hip OA.

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Alexander S. Aruin and Gil L. Almeida

The hypothesis that persons with Down syndrome are likely to trade mechanical efficacy of motor patterns for safety was tested in a study of postural adjustments associated with fast voluntary movements. Control subjects and subjects with Down syndrome performed bilateral shoulder flexion and extension movements “as fast as possible” while standing on a force platform. Anticipatory changes in the background activity of postural muscles were seen in both groups of subjects. Subjects with Down syndrome demonstrated simultaneous EMG bursts in postural “agonist-antagonist” pairs. Subjects with Down syndrome also demonstrated patterns of deviations in the major postural joints, suggesting that they were using a different strategy which may be a correlate of “clumsiness.” It was concluded that practice in conditions of changing components of a motor task is the most promising way to encourage the central nervous system of persons with Down syndrome to search for alternative strategies and improve these individuals' ability to solve everyday motor problems.

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Eric Yiou and Manh-Cuong Do

This study examined how the central nervous system organizes mediolateral (ML) “anticipatory postural adjustments” (APAs) for stepping initiation (SI) to take into account the postural perturbation induced by voluntary lateral arm raising. Subjects purposely stepped in isolation (“isolated stepping”) or in combination with lateral raising of dominant arm (“motor sequence”). SI was carried out with the leg ipsilateral or controlateral to raising arm. Results showed that APA amplitude increased from “ipsilateral isolated stepping” to “ipsilateral sequence”, but did not change in conditions involving controlateral leg; ML instability increased from “ipsilateral isolated stepping” to “ipsilateral sequence”, but decreased from “controlateral isolated stepping” to “controlateral sequence”. These changes were exacerbated when inertia was added at the hand during raising. These results suggest that APAs for SI are globally scaled as a function of the biomechanical consequences of forthcoming arm movement on ML postural stability.

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Adriana M. Degani, Alessander Danna-Dos-Santos and Mark L. Latash

We tested the hypothesis that a sequence of mechanical events occurs preceding a step that scales in time and magnitude as a whole in a task-specific manner, and is a reflection of a “motor program.” Young subjects made a step under three speed instructions and four tasks: stepping straight ahead, down a stair, up a stair, and over an obstacle. Larger center-of-pressure (COP) and force adjustments in the anteriorposterior direction and smaller COP and force adjustments in the mediolateral direction were seen during stepping forward and down a stair, as compared with the tasks of stepping up a stair and over an obstacle. These differences were accentuated during stepping under the simple reaction time instruction. These results speak against the hypothesis of a single motor program that would underlie postural preparation to stepping. They are more compatible with the reference configuration hypothesis of whole-body actions.

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Swati Shenoy and Alexander S. Aruin

The objective of this study was to determine if a forward-tilted seat and the resultant semi-kneeling body position associated with sitting on the Balans Multi Chair (BMC) affect postural control in sitting. Nine healthy subjects were seated on either the BMC or a regular (REG) chair with their arms extended. They were instructed to induce self-initiated body perturbations in four different directions by exerting brief pulses of force against a stationary frame positioned in front of them. Electromyographic (EMG) activities of trunk and leg muscles were recorded before and during the perturbations. The results show that sitting on both types of chairs was associated with anticipatory activation of trunk and upper leg muscles. In contrast, anticipatory activation of distal muscles was observed while sitting only on the REG chair and was absent while sitting on the BMC. The outcome of the study suggests that although the forward-tilting seat and semi-kneeling body position might help in preserving a normal lordosis, it is not associated with anticipatory activation of lower leg muscles, which might reduce the ability of an individual to counteract self-initiated body perturbations. These findings stress the important role of chair designs in the control of sitting posture.