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The Throw-and-Catch Model of Human Gait: Evidence from Coupling of Pre-Step Postural Activity and Step Location

Bancroft, MJ; Day, BL; (2016) The Throw-and-Catch Model of Human Gait: Evidence from Coupling of Pre-Step Postural Activity and Step Location. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , 10 , Article 635. 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00635. Green open access

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Abstract

Postural activity normally precedes the lift of a foot from the ground when taking a step, but its function is unclear. The throw-and-catch hypothesis of human gait proposes that the pre-step activity is organized to generate momentum for the body to fall ballistically along a specific trajectory during the step. The trajectory is appropriate for the stepping foot to land at its intended location while at the same time being optimally placed to catch the body and regain balance. The hypothesis therefore predicts a strong coupling between the pre-step activity and step location. Here we examine this coupling when stepping to visually-presented targets at different locations. Ten healthy, young subjects were instructed to step as accurately as possible onto targets placed in five locations that required either different step directions or different step lengths. In 75% of trials, the target location remained constant throughout the step. In the remaining 25% of trials, the intended step location was changed by making the target jump to a new location 96 ms ± 43 ms after initiation of the pre-step activity, long before foot lift. As predicted by the throw-and-catch hypothesis, when the target location remained constant, the pre-step activity led to body momentum at foot lift that was coupled to the intended step location. When the target location jumped, the pre-step activity was adjusted (median latency 223 ms) and prolonged (on average by 69 ms), which altered the body’s momentum at foot lift according to where the target had moved. We conclude that whenever possible the coupling between the pre-step activity and the step location is maintained. This provides further support for the throw-and-catch hypothesis of human gait.

Type: Article
Title: The Throw-and-Catch Model of Human Gait: Evidence from Coupling of Pre-Step Postural Activity and Step Location
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00635
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00635
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 Bancroft and Day. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: postural balance, gait initiation, motor activity, humans, gait, biomechanical phenomena, locomotion, walking
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536658
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