Reciprocal influences of attentional focus on postural and suprapostural task performance

J Mot Behav. 2004 Jun;36(2):189-99. doi: 10.3200/JMBR.36.2.189-199.


The authors examined the influence that attentional focus on either a postural or a suprapostural task had on the performance of each task. Participants (N = 32) stood on an inflated rubber disk and held a pole horizontally. All participants performed under 4 attentional focus conditions: external (disk) or internal (feet) focus on the postural task, and external (pole) or internal (hands) focus on the suprapostural task. Compared with internal focuses, external focuses on either task resulted in similar and reduced postural sway. Response frequency on each task increased when participants focused on the respective task. Finally, an external focus on either task produced higher frequencies of responding on the suprapostural task. The authors conclude that suprapostural task goals have a stronger influence on postural control than vice versa, reflecting the propensity of the motor system to optimize control processes on the basis of the desired movement effect.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*