The build up of anticipatory behavior: An analysis of gait initiation in children

A. Ledebt, B. Bril, Y. Breniere

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This study analyses the anticipatory postural adjustments during the gait initiation process in children aged 2.5, 4, 6 and 8 years. In adults, anticipation during gait initiation includes a shift in the centre of foot pressure (CP) both backwards and towards the stepping foot. Backward displacement and the duration of the anticipation phase covary with the gait progression velocity reached by the subject at the end of the first step. In the present study, the children walked on a force plate that allowed us to calculate the acceleration of the centre of mass and the displacements of the CP. The results showed three main characteristics of the development of anticipatory behaviour: (1) The occurrence of anticipatory displacements of the CP increased progressively with age. Systematic backward anticipation was found for all children except one of the youngest, whereas the lateral displacement was systematically observed later, in the 6-year group; (2) the amplitude of the spatial parameters showed a significant increase with age; (3) contrary to the adult, the amplitude of the backward shift did not covary with the forthcoming velocity in the youngest groups. This covariation became significant at 6 years and remained significant at 8 years. The results showed that even if anticipatory behaviour was present in 2.5-year-old children it is only later that the child is able of more accurate tuning of feedforward control, probably due to better control of the overall postural adjustments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-17
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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