Differential control of leg and trunk muscle activity by vestibulo-spinal and proprioceptive signals during human balance corrections

Acta Otolaryngol. 1995 Mar;115(2):124-9. doi: 10.3109/00016489509139273.


Knowledge about how proprioceptive signals trigger and modulate human balance corrections has important implications for the rehabilitation of postural and gait disorders, and increases our understanding of normal interactions between these sensory systems. We used combinations of support-surface rotation and rearward translation to examine the triggering effects of ankle and knee movements on balance corrections. By comparing the responses in normal subjects to those in persons with a bilateral peripheral vestibular deficit, we determined the modulating influence of vestibular inputs on balance responses. Differences in normal and vestibular-loss responses under the different proprioceptive conditions revealed four general findings. First, ventral leg muscle responses are strongly modulated by vestibulo-spinal inputs and by proprioceptive inputs from the ankle and knee. Second, triceps surae muscle responses are initially dependent on ankle inputs, and after 100 ms are modulated by knee inputs; they are not altered by vestibular loss. Third, paraspinal responses in vestibular-loss subjects are enhanced because of unstable trunk sway induced by the lack of ventral leg-muscle activity. Fourth, the earliest possible triggering signal for establishing the timing of interlink muscle activity appears to be knee flexion and/or trunk rotation on the pelvis. These results indicate that a confluence of knee and trunk proprioceptive and vestibulo-spinal inputs, rather than either input alone, is involved in establishing the muscle synergy underlying normal balance corrections.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Reflex, Stretch
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology*