Organization of posture controls: An analysis of sensory and mechanical constraints

L. M. Nashner, C. L. Shupert, F. B. Horak, F. O. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


We analyse two components of posture control in standing human subjects: (1) the mechanical properties which constrain the body' ability to execute stabilizing postural movements and (2) the mechanical and neural properties which constrain the ability of the vestibular system to sense changes in body orientation. Rules are then proposed to describe the central organization of posture controls within the sensory and mechanical constraints. The organizational rules and knowledge of constraints are combined to predict the effects of selective semicircular canal and utricular otolith lesions on postural stability and the patterns of body and head movements used to maintain balance. Our analysis leads to the prediction that semicircular canal and otolith deficits destabilize patients at different frequencies, and force them to use different patterns of body and head movements. These predictions are compared to posture controls observed in patients with different types of vestibular deficits. The additional steps required to prove or disprove the theory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • Movement coordination
  • Posture
  • Vestibular deficit
  • Vestibular system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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