Dr. Adam King and grad student examine role of sensory cues in balance

Humans have to stand in an upright position in a variety of environments (in the grocery store, pumping gas, or you may even use a standing desk like Dr. King do). The goal of our research (see link below) was to understand how different sensory cues allow us to maintain such postures. In this study my graduate student, Jacey Patton, and Dr. King designed an experiment that altered the use of vision (eyes open and closed) as well as made individuals stand on different sloped surfaces like you would encounter on an incline or decline ramp. Standing without the availability of vision led to more body sway as did both the incline and declined surfaces; however, the body sway of individuals did not increase when they stood on sloped surfaces with eyes closed as we had predicted. This finding suggests that a compensation strategy was used between the various sensory cues in order to hold the standing posture. Overall, we know that our body uses multiple sensory cues in order to stand in an upright position but understanding the relative role of vision, vertical orientation, and sensations from our feet can guide rehabilitation protocols for the elderly or other neurological conditions.