The correlational structure of stride-to-stride fluctuations differs between healthy and pathological gait. Uncorrelated and anti-persistent stride-to-stride fluctuations are believed to indicate pathology whereas persistence represents healthy functioning. However, this reading can be questioned because the correlational structure changes with task constraints, like acoustic pacing, signifying the tightness of control over particular gait parameters. We tested this "tightness-of-control interpretation" by varying the maneuverability range during treadmill walking (small, intermediate, and large walking areas), with and without acoustic pacing. Stride-speed fluctuations exhibited anti-persistence, suggesting that stride speeds were tightly controlled, with a stronger degree of anti-persistence for smaller walking areas. Constant-speed goal-equivalent-manifold decompositions revealed simultaneous control of stride times and stride lengths, especially for smaller walking areas to limit stride-speed fluctuations. With acoustic pacing, participants followed both constant-speed and constant-stride-time task goals. This was reflected by a strong degree of anti-persistence around the stride-time by stride-length point that uniquely satisfied both goals. Our results strongly support the notion that anti-persistence in stride-to-stride fluctuations reflect the tightness of control over the associated gait parameter, while not tightly regulated gait parameters exhibit statistical persistence. We extend the existing body of knowledge by showing quantitative changes in anti-persistence of already tightly regulated stride-speed fluctuations.
- Detrended fluctuation analysis
- Goal-equivalent manifold
- Motor control