Stabilization of posture by precision contact of the index finger

J Vestib Res. Jul-Aug 1994;4(4):285-301.


Postural sway during quiet stance increases if sight of the surroundings is denied. We studied how sensory-motor information about body displacement provided by contact of the index finger with a stationary bar can be used to stabilize balance in the absence of vision. Stabilization equivalent to the contribution conferred by vision was achieved at contact force levels less than 1 N. This value is much below that necessary to provide significant physical stabilization of the body. We interpret our findings in relation to tactile thresholds for motion detection, "precision grip," and proprioceptive and sensory-motor information about the configuration of the arm to the torso. In conditions allowing higher force levels at the fingertip (5-8 N), subjects assumed a passively stable state to stabilize their stance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception
  • Orientation
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture
  • Proprioception
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Sensation
  • Space Perception