The human head-neck system requires continuous stabilization in the presence of gravity and trunk motion. We investigated contributions of the vestibulocollic reflex (VCR), the cervicocollic reflex (CCR), and neck muscle co-contraction to head-in-space and head-on-trunk stabilization, and investigated modulation of the stabilization strategy with the frequency content of trunk perturbations and the presence of visual feedback.We developed a multisegment cervical spine model where reflex gains (VCR and CCR) and neck muscle co-contraction were estimated by fitting the model to the response of young healthy subjects, seated and exposed to anterior-posterior trunk motion, with frequency content from 0.3 up to 1, 2, 4 and 8. Hz, with and without visual feedback.The VCR contributed to head-in-space stabilization with a strong reduction of head rotation (<8. Hz) and a moderate reduction of head translation (>1. Hz). The CCR contributed to head-on-trunk stabilization with a reduction of head rotation and head translation relative to the trunk (<2. Hz). The CCR also proved essential to stabilize the individual intervertebral joints and prevent neck buckling. Co-contraction was estimated to be of minor relevance. Control strategies employed during low bandwidth perturbations most effectively reduced head rotation and head relative displacement up to 3. Hz while control strategies employed during high bandwidth perturbations reduced head global translation between 1 and 4. Hz. This indicates a shift from minimizing head-on-trunk rotation and translation during low bandwidth perturbations to minimizing head-in-space translation during high bandwidth perturbations. Presence of visual feedback had limited effects suggesting increased usage of vestibular feedback.

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Keywords CCR, Co-contraction, Feedback, Musculoskeletal model, Neck, Postural control, VCR, Vestibular
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Journal Journal of Biomechanics
Happee, R. (Riender), de Bruijn, E. (Edo), Forbes, P.A. (Patrick A.), & van der Helm, F.C.T. (2017). Dynamic head-neck stabilization and modulation with perturbation bandwidth investigated using a multisegment neuromuscular model. Journal of Biomechanics, 58, 203–211. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.05.005