Cortical activation following a balance disturbance
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Although recent work suggests that cortical processing can be involved in the control of balance responses, the central mechanisms involved in these reactions remain unclear. We presently investigated the characteristics of scalp-recorded perturbation-evoked responses (PERs) following a balance disturbance. Eight young adults stabilized an inverted pendulum using their ankle musculature while seated. When perturbations were applied to the pendulum, subjects were instructed to return (active condition) or not return (passive condition) the pendulum to its original stable position. Primary measures included peak latency and amplitude of early PERs (the first negative peak between 100 and 150 ms, N1), amplitude of late PERs (between 200 and 400 ms) and onset and initial amplitude of ankle muscle responses. Based on the timing of PERs, we hypothesized that N1 would represent sensory processing of the balance disturbance and that late PERs would be linked to the sensorimotor processing of balance corrections. Our results revealed that N1 was maximal over frontal-central electrode sites (FCz and Cz). Average N1 measures at FCz, Cz, and CPz were comparable between active and passive tasks ( p>0.05). In contrast, the amplitude of late PERs at Cz was less positive for the active condition than for the passive ( p<0.05). The similarity in N1 between tasks suggests a sensory representation of early PERs. Differences in late PERs may represent sensorimotor processing related to the execution of balance responses.
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