Altered Gravity Simulated by Parabolic Flight and Water Immersion Leads to Decreased Trunk Motion

PLoS One. 2015 Jul 24;10(7):e0133398. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133398. eCollection 2015.


Gravity is one of the important environmental factors that influence the physiologies and behaviors of animals and humans, and changes in gravity elicit a variety of physiological and behavioral alterations that include impaired movement coordination, vertigo, spatial disorientation, and perceptual illusions. To elucidate the effects of gravity on human physiology and behavior, we examined changes in wrist and trunk activities and heart rate during parabolic flight and the activity of wrist and trunk in water immersion experiments. Data from 195 person-time parabolas performed by eight subjects revealed that the trunk motion counts decreased by approximately half during ascending legs (hypergravity), relative to the data acquired before the parabolic flights. In contrast, the wrist activity remained unchanged. The results from the water immersion experiments demonstrated that in the underwater condition, both the wrist and trunk activities were significantly decreased but the latter decreased to a much lower level. Together, these data suggest that gravitational alterations can result in differential influences on the motions of the wrist and the trunk. These findings might be important for understanding the degeneration of skeleton and muscular system and performance of astronauts in microgravity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Gravity, Altered*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Wrist
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Basic Program of China (2011CB711000, 2012CB947600,, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31171119, 71201148,, the New Century Training Program Foundation for the Talents by the State Education Commission (NCET-12-0566,