The quiet stance is a complicated motor act requiring sophisticated sensorimotor integration to balance an artificial inverted pendulum with the ankle musculature. The objective of this study was to characterize the effects of stance pattern (bilateral stance vs. unilateral stance) and directional influence of light finger touch (medial-lateral vs. anterior-posterior) in unilateral stance upon responsiveness of the soleus H reflex. Sixteen healthy volunteers (mean age, 24.25 ± 1.77 years) participated in four postural tasks with the eyes open, including the bilateral stance (BS), the unilateral stance without finger touch (USNT), and with finger touch in the medial-lateral direction (USML) and anterior-posterior direction (USAP). Meanwhile, the soleus H reflex, the pre-stimulus background activity of ankle antagonist pairs, and center of pressure (CoP) sway were measured. In reference to the BS, the USNT resulted in a significant stance effect on suppression of the soleus H reflex (H/Mmax) associated with enhancement of CoP sway. Among the conditions of unilateral stance, there was a marked directional effect of finger touch on modulation of the H/Mmax. A greater disinhibition of the H/Mmax in consequence to light touch in the ML direction than in the AP direction was noted (H/Mmax: USML > USAP > USNT). This directional modulation of the soleus H reflex concurred with haptic stabilization of posture in unilateral stance, showing a more pronounced reduction in CoP sway in the USML condition than in the USAP condition. However, alteration in postural sway and modulation of the soleus H reflex were not mutually correlated when stance pattern or touch vector varied. In conclusion, gating of the soleus H reflex indicated adaptation of an ankle strategy to stance pattern and haptic stabilization of posture. Relative to bilateral stance, postural maintenance in unilateral stance relied less on reflexive correction of the soleus. When finger touch was provided in line with prevailing postural threat in the lateral direction, postural stability in unilateral stance was better secured than finger touch in anterior-posterior direction, resulting in more pronounced disinhibition of the monosynaptic reflex pathway.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Neurology