Attentional focus on supra-postural tasks affects postural control

Hum Mov Sci. 2002 Jul;21(2):187-202. doi: 10.1016/s0167-9457(02)00095-7.


We examined whether the attentional focus adopted on a supra-postural task has an influence on postural control. Similar to Riley, Stoffregen, Grocki, and Turvey (Human Movement Science 18 (1999) 795), participants were instructed to stand still while lightly touching a loosely hanging sheet with their fingertips. However, instructions varied slightly under two conditions: Participants were either asked to minimize movements of the finger (internal focus) or to minimize movements of the sheet (external focus). In contrast to Riley et al.'s findings, both touch conditions resulted in increased postural sway, compared to a baseline condition (no touch). However, in line with previous findings (e.g., Wulf, McNevin, & Shea, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 54A (2001) 1143), frequency of responding (fast Fourier transformation) was greater under the external focus condition, compared to both internal focus and baseline conditions. The findings indicate improved static balance responses under external focus conditions and compromised static balance response under internal focus conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology