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Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 114, Issue 10, pp 1279–1296 | Cite as

Cognitive demands and cortical control of human balance-recovery reactions

  • B. E. Maki
  • W. E. McIlroy
Article

Summary

A traditional view has been that balance control occurs at a very automatic level, primarily involving the spinal cord and brainstem; however, there is growing evidence that the cerebral cortex and cognitive processing are involved in controlling specific aspects of balance. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent literature pertaining to the cognitive demands and cortical control of balance-recovery reactions, focussing on five emerging sources of evidence: 1) dual-task studies demonstrating that concurrent performance of cognitive and balance-recovery tasks leads to interference effects; 2) dual-task studies that have examined the temporal dynamics associated with the reallocation of cognitive resources to the balance-recovery task; 3) visual attention studies that have inferred contributions of visual attention based on gaze measurements and/or manipulations to occlude vision; 4) measurements of brain potentials evoked by postural perturbation; and 5) use of transcranial magnetic stimulation to alter contributions from specific cortical areas.

Keywords

Attentional dynamics automatic postural response dual-task interference electroencephalography evoked potentials eye movements gaze grasping postural balance reaching saccades stepping transcranial magnetic stimulation triggered reactions visual attention 

Abbreviations

APA

anticipatory postural adjustment

APR

automatic postural response

CNS

central nervous system

COP

center of foot pressure

EEG

electroencephalography

EMG

electromyography

rTMS

repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

TMS

transcranial magnetic stimulation

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. E. Maki
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • W. E. McIlroy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Sunnybrook Health Sciences CentreTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Toronto Rehabilitation InstituteTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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