Research Article

Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 181, Issue 2, pp 221-228

First online:

Visual flow influences gait transition speed and preferred walking speed

  • Betty J. MohlerAffiliated withSchool of Computing, University of Utah Email author 
  • , William B. ThompsonAffiliated withSchool of Computing, University of Utah
  • , Sarah H. Creem-RegehrAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Utah
  • , Herbert L. PickJrAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota
  • , William H. WarrenJrAffiliated withBrown University

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Abstract

It is typically assumed that basic features of human gait are determined by purely biomechanical factors. In two experiments, we test whether gait transition speed and preferred walking speed are also influenced by visual information about the speed of self-motion. The visual flow during treadmill locomotion was manipulated to be slower than, matched to, or faster than the physical gait speed (visual gains of 0.5, 1.0, 2.0). Higher flow rates elicit significantly lower transition speeds for both the Walk–Run and Run–Walk transition, as expected. Similarly, higher flow rates elicit significantly lower preferred walking speeds. These results suggest that visual information becomes calibrated to mechanical or energetic aspects of gait and contributes to the control of locomotor behavior.