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Article Dans Une Revue Gait & Posture Année : 2016

Advantages and disadvantages of stiffness instructions when studying postural control


To understand the maintenance of upright stance, researchers try to discover the fundamental mechanisms and attentional resources devoted to postural control and eventually to the performance of other tasks (e.g., counting in the head). During their studies, some researchers require participants to stand as steady as possible and other simply ask participants to stand naturally. Surprisingly, a clear and direct explanation of the usefulness of the steadiness requirement seems to be lacking, both in experimental and methodological discussions. Hence, the objective of the present note was to provide advantages and disadvantages of this steadiness requirement in studies of postural control. The advantages may be to study fundamental postural control, to eliminate useless postural variability, to control spurious body motions and to control the participants' thoughts. As disadvantages, this steadiness requirement only leads to study postural control in unnatural upright stance, it changes the focus of attention (internal vs. external) and the nature of postural control (unconscious vs. conscious), it increases the difficulty of a supposedly easy control task and it eliminates or reduces the opportunity to record exploratory behaviors. When looking carefully at the four advantages of the steadiness requirement, one can believe that they are, in fact, more disadvantageous than advantageous. Overall therefore, this requirement seems illegitimate and it is proposed that researchers should not use it in the study of postural control. They may use this requirement only if they search to know the limit until which participants can consciously reduce their postural sway.
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hal-02159218 , version 1 (27-05-2021)



Cédrick T. Bonnet. Advantages and disadvantages of stiffness instructions when studying postural control. Gait & Posture, 2016, Gait & Posture, 46, pp.208-210. ⟨10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.12.026⟩. ⟨hal-02159218⟩
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