Enhancing the internal representation of the body through sensorimotor training in sports and dance improves balance control

  • Fabre Marie
  • Blouin Jean
  • Mouchnino Laurence

  • Proprioception
  • Balance control
  • Sensorimotor training
  • Body internal representation


Postural or balance control is of paramount importance for motor actions such as standing or walking. Interestingly preserving balance or body orientation while a voluntary movement is performed implies prediction of the postural disturbances provoked by the movement itself [1]. Indeed, limb or trunk movements induce a shift of body’s center of mass that can disturb balance if not compensated prior to their execution [2]. Such anticipated control of balance is grounded on the capacity of the brain to use a body internal representation (BIR) in space [3,4]. The BIR is built up and updated from multisensory integration involving proprioceptive, tactile, vestibular, visual inputs and is referred relative to a stable reference frame such as gravity. For example, the updating of the BIR through labyrinthine and muscle proprioceptive Ia inputs allows the fine tuning of the postural reactions following body disturbance [5]. It is worth noting that despite being important for calibrating proprioceptive inputs, visual information appears to be less involved than somatosensory for the fast updating of the body parts or whole-body position in space (i.e. BIR) required for enabling appropriate postural reactions. In this review, we will explore how the accuracy of the BIR can be improved by sensorimotor experience enabled by the practice of physical activities. We will particularly focus on activities that involve knowledge of the body parts’ relative motion and that require keeping or disrupting the vertical alignment of the body.