Content » Vol 27, Issue 2

Acoustic cues and postural control

Petersen H, Magnusson M, Johansson R, Akesson M, Fransson PA
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
DOI: 10.1080/16501977952799104

Abstract

The effect of auditory input on postural control was evaluated in separate experiments performed in three groups of healthy volunteers. Auditory input took the form either of feedback signals generated by a force platform in response to the subject's postural control movements, or of field orientation (frame of reference) input provided by repeated clicks emitted by loudspeakers in a normally reverberative environment. The effect of these acoustic cues was measured in terms of body sway recorded on a force platform during stance perturbations induced by vibratory stimuli applied to the calf muscles either at low (120mW) or high (850 mW) intensity, the subject standing with eyes closed or open, as instructed. In the presence of feedback auditory input, body sway in response to low intensity vibratory stimulation was significantly reduced, but not that in response to high intensity stimulation. This may be due to the fact that the head and body movements induced by high intensity vibratory stimulation are so rapid and powerful that they override the information available or to the subject using other strategies for postural control in which auditory feedback, at least in the form used here, does not contribute useful information. The availability of field orientation input did not reduce body sway in response to vibratory stimulation at low intensity. This was probably due to the cognitive lag which precluded use being made of the input before the fast proprioceptive responses to vibratory stimulation had already occurred.

Lay Abstract

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