Compensatory postural adaptations during continuous, variable amplitude perturbations reveal generalized rather than sequence-specific learning
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We examined changes in the motor organization of postural control in response to continuous, variable amplitude oscillations evoked by a translating platform and explored whether these changes reflected implicit sequence learning. The platform underwent random amplitude (maximum +/- 15 cm) and constant frequency (0.5 Hz) oscillations. Each trial was composed of three 15-s segments containing seemingly random oscillations. Unbeknownst to participants, the middle segment was repeated in each of 42 trials on the first day of testing and in an additional seven trials completed approximately 24 h later. Kinematic data were used to determine spatial and temporal components of total body centre of mass (COM) and joint segment coordination. Results showed that with repeated trials, participants reduced their magnitude of COM displacement, shifted from a COM phase lag to a phase lead relative to platform motion and increased correlations between ankle/platform motion and hip/platform motion as they shifted from an ankle strategy to a multi-segment control strategy involving the ankle and hip. Maintenance of these changes across days provided evidence for learning. Similar improvements for the random and repeated segments, indicated that participants did not exploit the sequence of perturbations to improve balance control. Rather, the central nervous system may have been tuning into more general features of platform motion. These findings provide important insight into the generalizabilty of improved compensatory balance control with training.
author list (cited authors)
Van Ooteghem, K., Frank, J. S., Allard, F., Buchanan, J. J., Oates, A. R., & Horak, F. B.