Does calculating impair postural stabilization allowed by visual cues?

July 01, 2014 By:
  • Ceyte H
  • Lion A
  • Caudron S
  • Kriem B
  • Perrin PP
  • Gauchard GC.

In many daily situations, balance control is associated with a cognitive activity such as reading or a simple calculation. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between these two specific human activities, especially the influence of visual cues and support surface stability on body sway during a calculation task. A Sensory Organization Test, which can disrupt or suppress sensory inputs, was performed on 71 healthy young adults. The evaluations were performed both with and without mental arithmetic tasks which consisted of backward counting by three or thirteen. Our results showed that the addition of a calculation task induced an increase in body sway only when visual cues were available. They also showed the same instability effect of the support surface on the amount of body sway no matter what the associated cognitive task was. Moreover, no difference in body sway was observed between the two calculation tasks no matter what the visual context and/or the stability of the support surface were. We suggest that focusing on fulfilling the requirements of the mental calculation challenge may be responsible for the increase in body sway. This increase may be related to the use of oculomotor activity as unintentional attempts to increase arousal by self-generated body movement. Thus, this activity facilitates information processing rather than minimizing unbalance by a visual anchor point.

2014 Jul. Exp Brain Res.232(7):2221-8. Epub 2014 Mar 28.
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