Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 196, Issue 3, pp 329–339

Center of mass control and multi-segment coordination in children during quiet stance

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-1852-z

Cite this article as:
Wu, J., McKay, S. & Angulo-Barroso, R. Exp Brain Res (2009) 196: 329. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-1852-z


This study aimed to apply an uncontrolled manifold (UCM) approach to investigate how children utilize the variability of multiple body segment movement to facilitate the center of mass (COM) control during quiet stance. Three groups of participants were included in this study: younger children (YC, mean age 6.3 years), older children (OC, mean age 10.3 years), and young adults (YA, mean age 20.5 years). Participants stood on a force platform with their hands on the iliac crests for 40 s in each trial. Two visual conditions were examined including eyes-open and eyes-closed and three trials were collected for each condition. Results showed that all three groups partitioned more variability of multi-segment movement into the UCM subspace (maintaining the mean COM position) than into the ORT subspace (a subspace orthogonal to the UCM subspace, causing the deviation of the COM from its mean position) in both eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions. Furthermore, both the YC and OC groups partitioned a significantly higher percentage of variability into the UCM subspace than the YA group regardless of visual condition. In addition, results of conventional COM variables indicated that only the YC group produced significantly faster sway velocity and greater standard deviation than the YA group. All the results together suggest that children at 6–10 years of age use a similar variability-partitioning strategy (a greater VUCM and a smaller VORT) like young adults in quiet stance to facilitate the COM control, but it takes more than 10 years for children to refine this strategy and achieve an adult-like variability-partitioning capability (i.e., UCM ratio). It also suggests that postural development may include two phases in which children learn to regulate the position and movement of multiple body segments and the COM first and gain an adult-like variability-partitioning capability later.


Uncontrolled manifold Center of mass Quiet stance Coordination Children 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and HealthGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Studies in Aging, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and Health Care Technology and PlaceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Division of KinesiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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