Directionality of anticipatory activation of trunk muscles in a lifting task depends on load knowledge

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We investigated to what extent subjects base anticipatory activity patterns of trunk muscles before lifting a load on knowledge of the inertial properties of the load. Eight healthy male subjects performed rapid arm lifts of a load with a varying center of mass position in the frontal plane. In one set of trials subjects were familiar with the center of mass position, in another set of trials they were not. In both cases trunk extensor muscles were active before the onset of lift force applied to the load. In the trials with load knowledge this anticipatory activity was specific with respect to center of mass position. In the absence of load knowledge left and right extensor muscles were equally active before the lift and the rate of lifting was reduced. Thus anticipatory control of trunk muscles appears specifically tuned to counteract the expected perturbation. In the absence of load knowledge trunk stiffness is increased by bilateral activity and the perturbation is attenuated since the rate of lifting is reduced.

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Received: 25 August 1998 / Accepted: 24 March 1999

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van Dieën, J., de Looze, M. Directionality of anticipatory activation of trunk muscles in a lifting task depends on load knowledge. Exp Brain Res 128, 397–404 (1999).

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  • Key words Postural control
  • Lifting
  • Balance
  • Anticipatory postural adjustments
  • Anticipatory muscle activity
  • Motor control
  • Trunk muscles