• air-stepping;
  • central pattern generator;
  • locomotion;
  • vibration


We attempted to elicit automatic stepping in healthy humans using appropriate afferent stimulation. It was found that continuous leg muscle vibration produced rhythmic locomotor-like stepping movements of the suspended leg, persisting up to the end of stimulation and sometimes outlasting it by a few cycles. Air-stepping elicited by vibration did not differ from the intentional stepping under the same conditions, and involved movements in hip and knee joints with reciprocal electromyogram (EMG) bursts in corresponding flexor and extensor muscles. The phase shift between evoked hip and knee movements could be positive or negative, corresponding to ‘backward’ or ‘forward’ locomotion. Such an essential feature of natural human locomotion as alternating movements of two legs, was also present in vibratory-evoked leg movements under appropriate conditions. It is suggested that vibration evokes locomotor-like movements because vibratory-induced afferent input sets into active state the central structures responsible for stepping generation.