Effects of visual motion consistent or inconsistent with gravity on postural sway

Priscilla Balestrucci, Elena Daprati, Francesco Lacquaniti, Vincenzo Maffei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vision plays an important role in postural control, and visual perception of the gravity-defined vertical helps maintaining upright stance. In addition, the influence of the gravity field on objects’ motion is known to provide a reference for motor and non-motor behavior. However, the role of dynamic visual cues related to gravity in the control of postural balance has been little investigated. In order to understand whether visual cues about gravitational acceleration are relevant for postural control, we assessed the relation between postural sway and visual motion congruent or incongruent with gravity acceleration. Postural sway of 44 healthy volunteers was recorded by means of force platforms while they watched virtual targets moving in different directions and with different accelerations. Small but significant differences emerged in sway parameters with respect to the characteristics of target motion. Namely, for vertically accelerated targets, gravitational motion (GM) was associated with smaller oscillations of the center of pressure than anti-GM. The present findings support the hypothesis that not only static, but also dynamic visual cues about direction and magnitude of the gravitational field are relevant for balance control during upright stance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1999-2010
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Balance
  • Force plate
  • Motor control
  • Posture
  • Vestibular cortex
  • Visual motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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