Learning to balance on one leg: motor strategy and sensory weighting.

J.H. van Dieen, M. van Leeuwen, G.S. Faber

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We investigated motor and sensory changes underlying learning of a balance task. Fourteen participants practiced balancing on one leg on a board that could freely rotate in the frontal plane. They performed six, 16-s trials standing on one leg on a stable surface (2 trials without manipulation, 2 with vestibular, and 2 with visual stimulation) and six trials on the balance board before and after a 30-min training. Center of mass (COM) movement, segment, and total angular momenta and board angles were determined. Trials on stable surface were compared with trials after training to assess effects of surface conditions. Trials pretraining and posttraining were compared to assess rapid (between trials pretraining) and slower (before and after training) learning, and sensory manipulation trials were compared with unperturbed trials to assess sensory weighting. COM excursions were larger on the unstable surface but decreased with practice, with the largest improvement over the pretraining trials. Changes in angular momentum contributed more to COM acceleration on the balance board, but with practice this decreased. Visual stimulation increased sway similarly in both surface conditions, while vestibular stimulation increased sway less on the balance board. With practice, the effects of visual and vestibular stimulation increased rapidly. Initially, oscillations of the balance board occurred at 3.5 Hz, which decreased with practice. The initial decrease in sway with practice was associated with upweighting of visual information, while later changes were associated with suppression of oscillations that we suggest are due to too high proprioceptive feedback gains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2967-2982
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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