Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 108, Issue 2, pp 315–320 | Cite as

Influence of auditory precuing on automatic postural responses

  • J. W. McChesney
  • H. Sveistrup
  • M. H. Woollacott
Research Article


An experiment was conducted to determine the influence of auditory precuing on posture control. Specifically, the influence of a warning signal on the onset latencies of the gastrocnemius (G) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles was determined. An audible 50-ms tone was presented to subjects standing on a moveable platform and preceded a perturbation to standing balance by 500 ms. The perturbations were produced by an anterior or posterior translation (3 cm at 30 cm/s) of the support surface. Unilateral electromyographic activity was recorded from G and TA muscles. In the first series of trials (series A), the muscle onset latencies following perturbations with a nondirectionally specific precue, an invalid precue, and no precue were compared. In the second series of trials (series B), muscle onset latencies following perturbations with a directionally specific precue, invalid precue, and no precue perturbations were compared. In series A, mean muscle onset latencies decreased following nondirectionally specific precues during forward and backward platform perturbations; respectively, TA 6% (91±9 ms to 86±9 ms) and G 7% (93±6 ms to 87±5 ms). During series B, the TA and G muscle onset latencies decreased following directionally specific precues by 10.4% (92±12 ms to 82±6ms) and 9.8% (92±9ms to 83±6ms), respectively. There were no significant differences between the types of precues. Thus, prior knowledge of a forthcoming balance perturbation reduces postural muscle onset latency times. In addition, specific prior knowledge reduces muscle onset latency time in the same manner as does nonspecific prior knowledge.

Key words

Posture control Precue Synergy Perturbation Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. McChesney
    • 1
  • H. Sveistrup
    • 2
  • M. H. Woollacott
    • 1
  1. 1.Motor Control LaboratoryUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Occupational TherapyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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