The many roles of vision during walking

David Logan, Tim Kiemel, Nadia Dominici, Germana Cappellini, Yuri Ivanenko, Francesco Lacquaniti, John J. Jeka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vision can improve bipedal upright stability during standing and locomotion. However, during locomotion, vision supports additional behaviors such as gait cycle modulation, navigation, and obstacle avoidance. Here, we investigate how the multiple roles of vision are reflected in the dynamics of trunk control as the neural control problem changes from a fixed to a moving base of support. Subjects were presented with either low- or high-amplitude broadband visual stimuli during standing posture or while walking on a treadmill at 1 km/h and 5 km/h. Frequency response functions between visual scene motion (input) and trunk kinematics (output) revealed little or no change in the gain of trunk orientation in the standing posture and walking conditions. However, a dramatic increase in gain was observed in trunk (hip and shoulder) horizontal displacement from posture to locomotion. Such increases in gain may be interpreted as an increased coupling to visual scene motion. However, we believe that the increased gain reflects a decrease in stability due to a change of the control problem from standing to locomotion. Indeed, keeping the body upright with the use of vision during walking is complicated by the additional locomotor processes at work. Unlike during standing, vision plays many roles during locomotion, providing information for upright stability as well as body position relative to the external environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-350
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Locomotion
  • Postural Stability
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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