Shift of the Muscular Inhibition Latency during On-Line Acquisition of Anticipatory Postural Adjustments


  • Barlaam Fanny
  • Vaugoyeau Marianne
  • Fortin Carole
  • Assaiante Christine
  • Schmitz Christina


  • Learning
  • Forearms
  • Electromyography
  • Postural control
  • Forecasting
  • EMG
  • Reflexes
  • Kinematics
  • Kynematic analysis
  • Elbow
  • Development
  • Adolescents

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During action, Anticipatory Postural Adjustments (APAs) cancel the consequences of a movement on postural stabilization. Their muscular expression is characterized by early changes in the activity of the postural muscles, before the movement begins. To explore the mechanisms enabling the acquisition of APAs, a learning paradigm was designed in which the voluntary lifting of a load with one hand triggered the unloading of another load suspended below the contralateral forearm. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the muscular expression that uncovers the progressive learning of new APAs. A trial-by-trial analysis of kinematic and electromyographic signals recorded on the right arm was conducted in twelve adults through six sessions of learning. Kinematic results reported an enhancement of the postural stabilization across learning. The main EMG pattern found during learning consisted of a flexor inhibition, where latency was shifted towards an earlier occurrence in parallel with the improvement of the postural performance. A linear regression analysis conducted between the inhibition latency and the maximal amplitude of elbow rotation showed that the earlier the inhibition onset, the better the postural stabilization. This study revealed that the progressive shift of the postural flexor inhibition latency could be considered as a reliable neurophysiological marker of the progressive learning of new APAs. Importantly, this marker could be used to track motor learning abnormalities in pathology. We relate our findings to the update of a forward predictive model of action, defined as a system that predicts beforehand the consequences of the action on posture.

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