Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 169, Issue 2, pp 272–278 | Cite as

Control of adaptive locomotion: effect of visual obstruction and visual cues in the environment

  • Shirley RietdykEmail author
  • Chris K. Rhea
Research Note


Visual information regarding obstacle position and size is used for planning and controlling adaptive gait. However, the manner in which visual cues in the environment are used in the control of gait is not fully known. This research examined the effect of obstacle position cues on the lead and trail limb trajectories during obstacle avoidance with and without visual information of the lower limbs and obstacle (termed visual exproprioception). Eight subjects stepped over obstacles under four visual conditions: full vision without obstacle position cues, full vision with position cues, goggles without position cues and goggles with position cues. Goggles obstructed visual exproprioception of the lower limbs and the obstacle. Position cues (2 m tall) were placed beside the obstacle to provide visual cues regarding obstacle position. Obstacle heights were 2, 10, 20 and 30 cm. When wearing goggles and without position cues, a majority of the dependent measures (horizontal distance, toe clearance and lead stride length) increased for the 10, 20 and 30 cm obstacles. Therefore lower limb–obstacle visual exproprioception was important for the control of both limbs, even though with normal vision the trail limb was not visible during obstacle clearance. When wearing goggles, the presence of position cues, which provided on-line visual exproprioception of the self relative to the obstacle position in the anterior–posterior direction, returned lead and trail foot placements to full vision values. Lead toe clearance was not affected by the position cues, trail clearance decreased but was greater than values observed during full vision. Therefore, visual exproprioception of obstacle location, provided by visual cues in the environment, was more relevant than visual exproprioception of the lower limbs for controlling lead and trail foot placement.


Gait adaptations Stability Vision Locomotion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health and KinesiologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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