<p>Stable walking relies critically on motor responses to signals of head motion provided by the vestibular system, which are phase-dependent and modulated differently within each muscle. It is unclear, however, whether these vestibular contributions also vary according to the stability of the walking task. Here we investigate how vestibular signals influence muscles relevant for gait stability (medial gastrocnemius, gluteus medius and erector spinae)—as well as their net effect on ground reaction forces—while humans walked normally, with mediolateral stabilization, wide and narrow steps. We estimated local dynamic stability of trunk kinematics together with coherence of electrical vestibular stimulation (EVS) with muscle activity and mediolateral ground reaction forces. Walking with external stabilization increased local dynamic stability and decreased coherence between EVS and all muscles/forces compared to normal walking. Wide-base walking also decreased vestibulomotor coherence, though local dynamic stability did not differ. Conversely, narrow-base walking increased local dynamic stability, but produced muscle-specific increases and decreases in coherence that resulted in a net increase in vestibulomotor coherence with ground reaction forces. Overall, our results show that while vestibular contributions may vary with gait stability, they more critically depend on the stabilization demands (i.e. control effort) needed to maintain a stable walking pattern.</p>

doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93037-7, hdl.handle.net/1765/136296
Scientific Reports
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Rina M. Magnani, Sjoerd M. Bruijn, Jaap H. van Dieën, & P.A. (Patrick) Forbes. (2021). Stabilization demands of walking modulate the vestibular contributions to gait. Scientific Reports, 11(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-93037-7