Uncontrolled manifold hypothesis: Organization of leg joint variance in humans while walking in a wide range of speeds

Monaco Vito, Tropea Peppino, Lucio A. Rinaldi, Micera Silvestro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed at investigating the organization of joint angle variability during walking by using the uncontrolled manifold (UCM) theory. We tested two hypotheses: i. the coordinative mechanism underlying joint angle variance during the stance phase is compatible with a kinematic synergy that stabilizes the centre of mass (CoM) position; ii. the walking speed affects the variance components onto and orthogonal to the UCM.Eight healthy subjects (26.0. ±. 2.0. years old) steadily walked on a treadmill at five normalised speeds (from 0.62. ±. 0.03. m/s to 1.15. ±. 0.07. m/s). Joint angles and foot orientation, and components of the CoM position were, respectively, used as elemental variables and task performance for the UCM implementation. The effect of speed, time events, and variance components on the distribution of data variance in the space of joint angles was analyzed by the ANOVA test.Results corroborated the hypothesis that the variance of elemental variables is structured in order to minimize the stride-to-stride variability of the CoM position, at all speeds. Noticeably, both variance components increase during the propulsive phase, albeit that parallel to the UCM was always grater than the orthogonal one. Accordingly, the observed kinematic synergy is supposed to contribute to accomplishing an efficient transition between two steps. Results also revealed that the walking speed does not affect the partitioning of elemental variables-related variance onto and orthogonal to the UCM. Accordingly, the organization of leg joint variance underlying the stabilization of CoM position remains almost unaltered across speeds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Movement Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sep 2017


  • CoM stabilisation
  • Human walking
  • Motor control
  • Speed
  • Uncontrolled manifold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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