Thomas Mergner & Branislav Bolha (1997) A Modified Version of the Center-of-mass Balancing Hypothesis . Psycoloquy: 8(02) Posture Locomotion (4)
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Psycoloquy 8(02): A Modified Version of the Center-of-mass Balancing Hypothesis

Book review of Roberts on Posture-Locomotion

Thomas Mergner & Branislav Bolha
Neurologische Universitatsklinik
Breisacher Str. 64
D-79106 Freiburg, Germany

Wolfgang Becker
Sektion Neurophysiologie
Universitat Ulm
Oberer Eselsberg
D-89069 Ulm, Germany


We specifically comment on Roberts' account (1995) of the interaction of vestibular and neck reflexes by contrasting it with an alternative view. While concurring with most of his formal description of the reactions resulting from a variety of experimental manipulations, we try to put the interpretation of these reactions according to our view into a broader systems perspective. According to this view, body stabilization requires two distinct sequences of coordinate transformations: one chains the sensory signals arising in the head "down" to the central representations of the trunk, the legs and, ultimately, to the feet and their support, while the second chain of transformations relays information from the feet back to the legs and trunk representations. Vestibular-neck interaction would reflect but one transformation step of these chains. Our concept of coordinate transformation owes much to recent progress in vestibular psychophysics. We suggest that vestibular psychophysics may indeed fill the gap between the physiological basis (e.g., vestibulo- spinal and cervico-spinal reflexes in the decerebrate cat) on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the complex task of decoding the centrally evoked discharge pattern by naturally occurring stimuli, which may call for a Gestalt recognition mechanism as suggested by Roberts.


Balance, connectionism, gestalt, learning, locomotion, motor control, proprioception, recognition.