The effects of sub-threshold vibratory noise on visuomotor entrainment during human walking and standing in a virtual reality environment
PubDate: Aug 2019
Teams: University of Wisconsin–Madison
Writers: Samuel A.Acuña；John D.Zunker；Darryl G.Thelen
Humans will naturally synchronize their posture to the motion of a visual surround, but it is unclear if this visuomotor entrainment can be attenuated with an increased sensitivity to somatosensory information. Sub-threshold vibratory noise applied to the Achilles tendons has proven to enhance ankle proprioception through the phenomenon of stochastic resonance. Our purpose was to compare visuomotor entrainment during walking and standing, and to understand how this entrainment might be attenuated by applying sub-threshold vibratory noise over the Achilles tendons. We induced visuomotor entrainment during standing and treadmill walking for ten subjects (24.5 ± 2.9 years) using a speed-matched virtual hallway with continuous mediolateral perturbations at three different frequencies. Vibrotactile motors over the Achilles tendons provided noise (0–400 Hz) with an amplitude set to 90% of each participant’s sensory threshold. Mediolateral sacrum, C7, and head motion was greatly amplified (4–8× on average) at the perturbation frequencies during walking, but was much less pronounced during standing. During walking, individuals with greater mediolateral head motion at the fastest perturbation frequency saw the greatest attenuation of that motion with applied noise. Similarly, during standing, individuals who exhibited greater postural sway (as measured by the center of pressure) also saw the greatest reductions in sway with sub-threshold noise applied in three of our summary metrics. Our results suggest that, at least for healthy young adults, sub-threshold vibratory noise over the Achilles tendons can slightly improve postural control during disruptive mediolateral visual perturbations, but the applied noise does not substantially attenuate visuomotor entrainment during walking or standing.