Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 212, Issue 1, pp 33–46 | Cite as

Differential integration of visual and kinaesthetic signals to upright stance

  • Brice IsableuEmail author
  • Benoît Fourre
  • Nicolas Vuillerme
  • Guillaume Giraudet
  • Michel-Ange Amorim
Research Article


The present experiment was designed to assess the effect of active (deliberate) maintenance of a small forward (FL) or backward body lean (BL) (about 2° ankle flexion) with respect to the spontaneous direction of balance (or neutral posture, N) on postural balance. We questioned whether BL and FL stances, which impose a volitional proprioceptive control of the body-on-support angle, could efficiently reduce mediolateral displacements of the centre of pressure (CoP) induced by the visual motion of a room and darkness. Subjects (n = 15) were asked to stand upright quietly feet together while confronted to a large visual scene rolling to 10° on either side in peripheral vision (and surrounding vertical visual references in central vision) at 0.05 Hz. CoP displacements were recorded using a force platform. Analysis of medio-lateral CoP root-mean square showed that the effect of the moving room depends on the subject’s postural stability performance in the eyes open N stance condition. Two significant postural behaviours emerged. (1) The most stable subjects (G1) were not affected by the conditions of altered vision, but swayed more in BL stance than in the N stance. (2) The unstable subjects (G2) exhibited (i) larger CoP displacements in altered visual conditions and a greater coupling of the CoP with the motion of the visual scene, (ii) enhanced visual dependency with postural leaning, and (iii) decreased CoP displacements when leaning forward in the eyes open motionless scene. Interestingly, the visual quotient positively correlated with the proprioceptive quotient, indicating that the more the subjects relied heavily on the visual frame of reference (FOR) the more they were influenced by body leaning. This result suggested hence a lesser ability to use efficiently body-ground proprioceptive cues. On the whole, the present findings indicate that body leaning could provide a useful mean to assess the subject’s ability to use body-ground proprioceptive cues not only to improve postural stability during eyes opening (especially during forward leaning), but also as a mean to disclose subjects’ visual dependency and their associated difficulties to shift from visual to proprioceptive-based FOR.


Proprioception Vision Postural control Frames of reference Interindividual variability Human 



The authors would like to thank the students at the University Paris-Sud, UFR STAPS who volunteered to serve as participants in this study. This research was supported by a grant from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, île de France.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brice Isableu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Benoît Fourre
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nicolas Vuillerme
    • 2
    • 4
  • Guillaume Giraudet
    • 3
    • 5
  • Michel-Ange Amorim
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.CIAMS-Motor Control and Perception TeamUniv Paris SudParisFrance
  2. 2.CNRS-UJF-EPHEAGIM (AGeing, Imageing, Modeling) LaboratoryGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.Vision Science DepartmentEssilor International, R and DParisFrance
  4. 4.CIC-IT 805, INSERM/AP-HPHôpital Raymond PoincaréGarchesFrance
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Psychophysique et Perception VisuelleUniv MontréalMontréalCanada
  6. 6.Institut Universitaire de FranceParisFrance

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