NCBI ROFL: The science of spontaneous synchronized stepping.

By ncbi rofl | January 9, 2013 5:00 pm

Modality-specific communication enabling gait synchronization during over-ground side-by-side walking.

“An attentive observer will notice that unintentional synchronization of gait between two walkers on the street seems to occur frequently. Nonetheless, the rate of occurrence and motor-sensory mechanisms underlying this phase-locking of gait have only recently begun to be investigated. Previous studies have either been qualitative or carried out under non-natural conditions, e.g., treadmill walking. The present study quantitatively examined the potential sensory mechanisms that contribute to the gait synchronization that occurs when two people walk side by side along a straight, over-ground, pathway. Fourteen pairs of subjects walked 70m under five conditions that manipulated the available sensory feedback. The modalities studied were visual, auditory, and tactile. Movement was quantified using a trunk-mounted tri-axial accelerometer. A gait synchronization index (GSI) was calculated to quantify the phase synchronization of the gait rhythms. Overall, 36% of the walks exhibited synchrony. Tactile and auditory feedback showed the greatest ability to synchronize, while visual feedback was the least effective. The results show that gait synchronization during natural walking is common, quantifiable, and has modality-specific properties.”

Photo: flickr/osd29

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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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