Trunk muscle proprioceptive input assists steering of locomotion

Micaela Schmid, Alessandro Marco De Nunzio, Marco Schieppati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During locomotion, human subjects navigate in their environment and choose the direction by means of the internal representation of space that is continuously updated by sensory input. Aim of this study was to assess whether trunk proprioceptive information plays a role in the definition of the reference frame for orientation. Unilateral trunk muscle vibration was applied during locomotion along a straight path in seven subjects. Vibration was administered either from the onset or in the middle of a seven-step task, under eyes-open (EO) or blindfolded condition. The deviation of the walking trajectory was quantified by the distance of the seventh from the first foot print along the medio-lateral axis. Foot angles and stride lengths were computed for all foot-falls. Vibration produced a clear-cut deviation from the straight-ahead direction when delivered in the middle of blindfolded locomotion. With EO the deviation was much smaller. A mild deviation was obtained in blindfolded condition when vibration started at the onset of locomotion. All deviations from the straight-ahead were accompanied by coherent changes in foot orientation on the ground. Trunk proprioception plays a major role in the definition of locomotor trajectory. Trunk input seems to be weighted against vision and whole-body kinematic information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 12 2005


  • Locomotion
  • Reference frame
  • Straight-ahead
  • Trunk muscle
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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