Posture and movement: coordination and control.

F. Lacquaniti, C. Maioli, N. A. Borghese, L. Bianchi


Studies are reviewed that address the problem of the variables controlled in the maintenance of body posture and generation of limb movement. Vestibulospinal and neck reflexes cancel each other in response to roll, but not in response to pitch of the animal. In pitch trunk orientation is not effectively stabilized in space. Instead, limb length and orientation relative to the vertical are accurately controlled in normal cats pitched statically and dynamically by variable angles. Control of limb geometry may even take precedence over the control of the projected centre of mass. Coordinate transformation results in a constraint of planar covariation of the elevation angles at all limb segments in cat posture. Because the same constraint applies also to human locomotion, we suggest that sharing the same laws of intersegmental coordination for the control of posture and locomotion helps to assure the maintenance of dynamic equilibrium during movement. Moreover, because several neural sites encode posture and movement in gravity-based reference frames, alignment in register of spatial information derived from multiple sensors and directed to multiple effectors is made possible.

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