An Optimal Estimator Model of Multi-Sensory Processing in Human Postural Control

We hypothesized that multi-sensory processing at the central nervous system (CNS) in human postural control can be described using an optimal estimator model. The estimates on body dynamics from multi-sensory signals contain sensory noise, transmission delays, and process disturbances. The state estimates approximate actual body movement. Erroneous estimates degrade the performance of feedback control and could cause a loss of balance if distorted severely. To test the hypothesis, we examined the frequency response of a visually-induced postural sway with stimulus frequency ranging from 0.075 to I Hz and established an optimal estimator model. Two healthy young (33yrs +- 1) subjects stood on a force platform located 1.25m behind a projection screen with their arms crossed over their chests. They were asked to maintain an upright posture against the sinusoidal visual field stimuli. Each sinusoidal visual stimulus was generated by a projector for 200secs in pitch direction with a maximum pitch angle of 20'. Kinematics data was recorded to calculate the frequency response function of the center of mass (COM). There were three components in the modeling procedure: a biomechanical model of body and sensor dynamics, a linear feedback control model to stabilize the biomechanical model, and a state estimator to estimate body dynamic states based on multi-sensory outputs. We modeled the sensor dynamics of the semicircular canal, otolith, vision, and muscle spindles at the ankle and hip joint. We used the Kalman filter and linear quadratic regulator to determine feedback gains. Results showed that the frequency response function of a visually-induced postural sway decreased as stimulus frequency increased, and this low-pass filtering characteristic with an approximate cutoff frequency of 0.2Hz was also simulated by the postural feedback control model with optimal estimator. Low-pass filtering characteristics of the frequency response are mainly due to body and sensor dynamics, which show reduced responses for high frequency stimulus. The Kalman filter represents that the CNS utilizes redundant sensory information in a way that minimizes discrepancies between actual body dynamics and estimated body dynamics based on sensory output and an internal model. The results suggest that the CNS may make use of an internal representation of body dynamics, and can integrate sensory information in an optimal way to best estimate human postural responses.
Trans Tech Publications
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We wish to thank Emily A. Keshner and Jessica A. Langston for their help in data collection


sensory processing; optimal estimator; internal model; visually induced motion


Key Engineering Materials, v.277/279, pp.148-154

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