New Publication from Dr. Carpenter – Postural Threat Influences Conscious Perception of Postural Sway

Mark Carpenter

Dr. Mark Carpenter
Department of Language and Literacy Education

Abstract: This study examined how changes in threat influenced conscious perceptions of postural sway. Young healthy adults stood on a forceplate mounted to a hydraulic lift placed at two heights (0.8 m and 3.2m). At each height, subjects stood quietly with eyes open and eyes closed for 60s. Subjects were instructed to either stand normal, or stand normal and track their perceived sway in the antero-posterior plane by rotating a hand-held potentiometer. Participants reported an increased level of fear, anxiety, and a decreased level of balance confidence when standing at height. In addition, postural sway amplitude decreased and frequency increased at height. However, there were no effects of height on perceived sway. When standing under conditions of increased postural threat, sway amplitude is reduced, while sway perception appears to remain unchanged. Therefore, when threat is increased, sensory gain may be increased to compensate for postural strategies that reduce sway (i.e. stiffening strategy), thereby ensuring sufficient afferent information is available to maintain, or even increase the conscious perception of postural sway.

Read More:

Cleworth, T. W., & Carpenter, M. G. (2016). Postural Threat Influences Conscious Perception of Postural Sway.Neuroscience Letters, Advanced Online Publication.

Click here to access the article.