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Keywords:

  • Eye movements;
  • postural control;
  • visual perception

Abstract

Focusing gaze on a target helps stabilize upright posture. We investigated how this visual stabilization can be affected by observing a target presented under different gaze and viewing angles. In a series of 10-second trials, participants (N= 20, 29.3 ± 9 years of age) stood on a force plate and fixed their gaze on a figure presented on a screen at a distance of 1 m. The figure changed position (gaze angle: eye level (0°), 25° up or down), vertical body orientation (viewing angle: at eye level but rotated 25° as if leaning toward or away from the participant), or both (gaze and viewing angle: 25° up or down with the rotation equivalent of a natural visual perspective). Amplitude of participants’ sagittal displacement, surface area, and angular position of the center of gravity (COG) were compared. Results showed decreased COG velocity and amplitude for up and down gaze angles. Changes in viewing angles resulted in altered body alignment and increased amplitude of COG displacement. No significant changes in postural stability were observed when both gaze and viewing angles were altered. Results suggest that both the gaze angle and viewing perspective may be essential variables of the visuomotor system modulating postural responses.