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Title: Low-dimensional organization of angular momentum during walking on a narrow beam
Walking on a beam is a challenging motor skill that requires the regulation of upright balance and stability. The difficulty in beam walking results from the reduced base of support compared to that afforded by flat ground. One strategy to maintain stability and hence avoid falling off the beam is to rotate the limb segments to control the body’s angular momentum. The aim of this study was to examine the coordination of the angular momentum variations during beam walking. We recorded movement kinematics of participants walking on a narrow beam and computed the angular momentum contributions of the body segments with respect to three different axes. Results showed that, despite considerable variability in the movement kinematics, the angular momentum was characterized by a low-dimensional organization based on a small number of segmental coordination patterns. When the angular momentum was computed with respect to the beam axis, the largest fraction of its variation was accounted for by the trunk segment. This simple organization was robust and invariant across all participants. These findings support the hypothesis that control strategies for complex balancing tasks might be easier to understand by investigating angular momentum instead of the segmental kinematics.
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Scientific reports
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National Science Foundation
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