We performed a whole-body mapping study of the effect of unilateral muscle vibration, eliciting spindle Ia firing, on the control of standing and walking in humans. During quiet stance, vibration applied to various muscles of the trunk-neck system and of the lower limb elicited a significant tilt in whole body postural orientation. The direction of vibration-induced postural tilt was consistent with a response compensatory for the illusory lengthening of the stimulated muscles. During walking, trunk-neck muscle vibration induced ample deviations of the locomotor trajectory toward the side opposite to the stimulation site. In contrast, no significant modifications of the locomotor trajectory could be detected when vibrating various muscles of the lower as well as upper limb. The absence of correlation between the effects of muscle vibration during walking and standing dismisses the possibility that vibration-induced postural changes can account for the observed deviations of the locomotor trajectory during walking. We conclude that the dissimilar effects of trunk-neck and lower limb muscle vibration during walking and standing reflect a general sensory-motor plan, whereby muscle Ia input is processed according to both the performed task and the body segment from which the sensory inflow arises.
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