Neck muscle vibration disrupts steering of locomotion

Marco Bove, Manuela Diverio, Thierry Pozzo, Marco Schieppati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neck muscle vibration was applied to human subjects to assess the influences of neck abnormal proprioceptive input on the organization and execution of gait. Subjects walked blindfolded to a previously seen target, located straight ahead at ∼4 m. Vibration was applied on the right side of the neck, both during and before walking. The variables measured were length, duration, and velocity of trajectory; relative and absolute frontal errors at target; and width of walking support base. Vibration applied during locomotion produced an undershoot of target and deviation of gait trajectory toward the side opposite to vibration. Vibration applied before locomotion produced no effect on length of trajectory but slowing of velocity and nonsystematic deviation. When vibration frequency was increased, the amplitude of the nonsystematic deviation increased. Vibration applied during or before stance trials had minor effects on body sway. Vibration before stance had no effect on the position of mean center of foot pressure, whereas vibration during stance displaced it to the side opposite to the vibrated muscle. We suggest that vibration during locomotion reduces length and velocity of trajectory because of a direct action on the locomotor centers and produces trajectory deviation related to its effect on stance. Vibration before locomotion causes a major, nonsystematic deviation from the planned trajectory, possibly connected to a disorientation of the internal references.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-588
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Orientation
  • Posture
  • Proprioception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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