Standing balance can be controlled using feedback (FB) or feedforward (FF) mechanisms, depending on the nature of a postural disturbance. Unexpected disturbances of balance elicit automatic postural responses (APR) to restore body position (Horak and Macpherson 1996). Studies of APR have shown that the CNS recruits a small number of muscle synergies to simplify complex task-level goals (e.g. CoM stabilization) to produce the appropriate muscle activation patterns (Ting & McKay, 2007). Successful execution of goal-directed voluntary movements while standing requires FF programming of postural adjustments that serve to initiate movement of the body towards the target (preparatory postural adjustment, pPA) and stabilize posture when the target is reached (associated postural adjustment, aPA), (Leonard et al, 2009). We have shown that postural muscles demonstrate spatial tuning and functional groupings during multidirectional reaches for both pPA & aPA.
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