Disturbance of neural coupling between upper and lower limbs during gait transition

Benio Kibushi, Naoto Kihira, Toshio Moritani, Motoki Kouzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Humans spontaneously alternate between walking and running with a change in locomotion speed, which is termed gait transition. It has been suggested that sensory information in the muscle is a factor that triggers the gait transition; however, direct evidence for this has not been presented. In addition, it has been suggested that upper limb movement during human gait facilitates leg muscle activity due to the neural coupling between the upper and lower limbs. We hypothesized that a disturbance of afferent inputs in the neural coupling between the upper and lower limbs suppressively act on the gait transition. Here, we aimed to deepen the understanding of contribution of the afferent inputs in neural coupling between the upper and lower limbs to the gait transition. Eight participants performed spontaneous walk-to-run and run-to-walk transitions under two different conditions: Normal (arms swinging normally); and TIS (partial blocking of afferent inputs from the arms by inducing tourniquet ischemia). We compared the preferred gait transition speeds (PTS), joint angles, muscle activities, and muscle synergies between the two conditions. Control of coordinated muscle activities can be investigated by analyzing muscle synergies, which are groups of muscles that activate together. The PTS, joint angle profiles, muscle activity profiles, and muscle synergies were nearly identical between conditions (walk-to-run PTS at Normal and TIS: 6.9 ± 0.4 and 6.9 ± 0.4 km/h; run-to-walk PTS at Normal and TIS: 6.6 ± 0.4 and 6.5 ± 0.4 km/h; p = 0.869 and p = 0.402, respectively). Therefore, we conclude that the control of gait transition is little affected by disturbing the neural coupling between the upper and lower limbs by reducing afferent inputs from the forearms and distal upper arms. Our findings might reflect robustness of the neural coupling between the upper and lower limbs during locomotion against neural perturbations or disturbances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136100
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Volume761
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sep 14

Keywords

  • Electromyograms
  • Muscle synergies
  • Running
  • Sensory feedback
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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