Serving performance in a suprapostural visual signal detection task: context-dependent and direction-specific control of body sway with fingertip light touch

David Kaulmann, Joachim Hermsdörfer, Leif Johannsen (Lead Author)

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Keeping gaze fixed on a target during visual smooth pursuit or touch light during fingertip contact while standing may resemble the goals of a suprapostural task with the implicit demands to minimize self-imposed sensorimotor variability. To test whether the principle of a suprapostural task generalizes to more complex sensorimotor stimulus-response mappings, we investigated how the control of body sway is influenced by an implicit feedback coupling (IFC) between the variability of touch forces at the contact point and perceptual difficulty, that is vertical jitter of a horizontally oscillating Landolt-C, in a visual signal detection task (VSDT). Mediolateral (ML) body sway of ten young healthy adults was assessed in four IFC conditions: (1) LT with independent jitter (LT-IJ), (2) LT with jitter depending on LT contact force (LT-CF), (3) LT with jitter depending on body sway (LT-BS), and (4) no contact with jitter depending on body sway (NT-BS). We assumed that the postural control system would be responsive to IFC and therefore reduce body sway in both IFC conditions. Resulting mediolateral body sway differed between the IFC conditions. Reduced sway was found in LT-CF and LT-BS compared to LT-IJ and in LT-BS compared to NT-BS. Our results demonstrate that processes controlling body sway can reduce postural variability below a variability level achieved by LT augmentation of body sway-related feedback alone. Both direct (LT-CF) and indirect (LT-BS) IFC involvement of fingertip contact minimized sway, which implies that no hierarchy existed for whole body sway or precision of fingertip contact (integration of both control processes) or that they can be reversed flexibly (one facilitating the other) if it serves the implicit goal of reduced perceptual noise and enhanced performance within the context of our suprapostural VSDT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74–76
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue numberSuppl 1
Early online date30 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

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