Function dictates the phase dependence of vision during human locomotion

David Logan, Yuri P. Ivanenko, Tim Kiemel, Germana Cappellini, Francesca Sylos-Labini, Francesco Lacquaniti, John J. Jeka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In human and animal locomotion, sensory input is thought to be processed in a phase-dependent manner. Here we use full-field transient visual scene motion toward or away from subjects walking on a treadmill. Perturbations were presented at three phases of walking to test 1) whether phase dependence is observed for visual input and 2) whether the nature of phase dependence differs across body segments. Results demonstrated that trunk responses to approaching perturbations were only weakly phase dependent and instead depended primarily on the delay from the perturbation. Recording of kinematic and muscle responses from both right and left lower limb allowed the analysis of six distinct phases of perturbation effects. In contrast to the trunk, leg responses were strongly phase dependent. Leg responses during the same gait cycle as the perturbation exhibited gating, occurring only when perturbations were applied in midstance. In contrast, during the postperturbation gait cycle, leg responses occurred at similar response phases of the gait cycle over a range of perturbation phases. These distinct responses reflect modulation of trunk orientation for upright equilibrium and modulation of leg segments for both hazard accommodation/avoidance and positional maintenance on the treadmill. Overall, these results support the idea that the phase dependence of responses to visual scene motion is determined by different functional tasks during walking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Human locomotion
  • Phase dependence
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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