Visual influence on postural control, with and without visual motion feedback

Acta Otolaryngol. 2002 Jun;122(4):392-7. doi: 10.1080/00016480260000076.


Body sway was investigated in 20 healthy subjects to determine whether visual input must contain motion feedback information from the surroundings in order to influence postural control. Posturography was used to record body sway under the following visual conditions: eyes open with or without a restricted visual field; eyes open in ganzfield white light; eyes open in darkness with a head-fixed visual target; eyes open in darkness; and eyes closed in darkness. Stance was perturbed by means of a pseudorandomly applied vibratory stimulation to the calf muscles. Least sway was found with eyes open in an unrestricted visual field but increased in a restricted visual field. Greatest sway was found without visual motion feedback, i.e. under the following conditions: eyes closed; eyes open in darkness; eyes open in ganzfield white light; and with a head-mounted fixation point. Sway was significantly (p < 0.05) greater with eyes open in darkness compared with eyes closed during the initial 50 s with perturbations. After 150 s, sway was almost identical under the four test conditions without visual motion feedback. Standing with eyes open in darkness was initially a disadvantage compared with having the eyes closed. The postural control system may be programmed to expect visual feedback information when the eyes are open, which may delay changes in postural strategy.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Vibration
  • Visual Fields / physiology