Rapid processing of haptic cues for postural control in blind subjects

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Objectives: Vision and touch rapidly lead to postural stabilization in sighted subjects. Is touch-induced stabilization more rapid in blind than in sighted subjects, owing to cross-modal reorganization of function in the blind? Methods: We estimated the time-period elapsing from onset of availability of haptic support to onset of lateral stabilization in a group of early- and late-onset blinds. Eleven blind (age 39.4. years. ±. 11.7. SD) and eleven sighted subjects (age 30.0. years. ±. 10.0. SD), standing eyes closed with feet in tandem position, touched a pad with their index finger and withdrew the finger from the pad in sequence. EMG of postural muscles and displacement of centre of foot pressure were recorded. The task was repeated fifty times, to allow statistical evaluation of the latency of EMG and sway changes following the haptic shift. Results: Steady-state sway (with or without contact with pad, no haptic shift) did not differ between blind and sighted. On adding the haptic stimulus, EMG and sway diminished in both groups, but at an earlier latency (by about 0.5. s) in the blinds (. p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1439
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Balance
  • Cross-modal plasticity
  • Functional reorganization
  • Postural set
  • Processing of haptic cues
  • Sighted and blind
  • Standing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems
  • Medicine(all)

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