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Spectral analysis of the human body sway during standing on firm and compliant surfaces under different visual conditions


Effects of different visual conditions on the vertical posture maintenance were compared in subjects standing on a firm or compliant surface. These visual conditions included a motionless visual environment (MVE), eyes-closed condition (EC), and a virtual visual environment (VVE). The VVE consisted of two planes: the foreground and background. The foreground displayed a room window with adjacent walls, and the background was represented by an aqueduct with the adjacent landscape. The VVE was destabilized by inducing either the cophased or the antiphased relation between the foreground of the visual scene and the body sway. We evaluated changes in the amplitude spectra of two elementary variables calculated from the trajectories of the plantar center of pressure (CoP) displacements in the anteroposterior and lateral directions, namely, the trajectories for the center of gravity projections on the support (the CG variable) and the differences between the CoP and CG trajectories (the CoP–CG variable).The CG trajectory was considered as a controlled variable, and the difference between the CoP and CG trajectories were considered as a variable related to the body acceleration and reflecting changes in the resultant stiffness in ankle joints. The rootmean-square (RMS) values for the spectra of both variables calculated from the body sway in the anteroposterior direction in standing on a firm support decreased proportionately with antiphased relation between the foreground and the body sway and increased with the cophased relation, compared with the RMS calculated for the MVE conditions. RMS for the spectra of the CG variable in the cophased relation were nearly the same, as in standing with eyes closed (EC), while the RMS for the spectra of the CoP–CG variable were significantly less than with EC. The body sway during standing on a compliant support significantly increased in both the anteroposterior and the lateral directions under all visual conditions. RMS for the spectra of both variables with EC increased considerably higher than in the cophased relation. Furthermore, the RMS for the spectra of the CG variable calculated from the body sway in the lateral direction on a compliant support was substantially higher in the antiphased relation than in the cophased relation, whereas the RMS for the spectra of the CoP–CG variable under both conditions had similar values. The analysis of body sway and the results under some visual conditions have shown that the amplitude characteristics of the CG and CoP–CG variables changed not always proportionately with the passage from standing on a firm support to a compliant support. It is suggested that the found disproportion of changes in these two variables is probably associated with the contribution of another additional factor to the process of postural control, the passive elastic component of musculo-articular stiffness generated by fascial-tendon tissues.

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Correspondence to B. N. Smetanin.

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Original Russian Text © B.N. Smetanin, G.V. Kozhina, A.K. Popov, Y.S. Levik, 2016, published in Fiziologiya Cheloveka, 2016, Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 49–57.

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Smetanin, B.N., Kozhina, G.V., Popov, A.K. et al. Spectral analysis of the human body sway during standing on firm and compliant surfaces under different visual conditions. Hum Physiol 42, 626–633 (2016).

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  • vertical posture
  • visual effects
  • spectral characteristics of body sway
  • virtual 3D environment