The maintenance of upright posture involves constant adjustment to external and internal perturbations. This balancing act is often assumed to be an automatic process, but studies suggest that cognitive processes, particularly attention, are necessary for the control of posture. The current study examines the role of attention in balance using a dual-task paradigm. Twenty-four healthy young adults performed a sit-to-stand (STS) task on either a stable or unstable platform while performing a secondary cognitive task of counting backwards aloud. Movement of the upper and lower body was analyzed using the largest Lyapunov exponent (λ1) and standard deviation (SD). Results replicated earlier findings (Gibbons, Amazeen, & Likens, 2018) that the transition from sit to stand was marked by increased variability and a temporary destabilization of postural control. Participants exhibited greater movement variability overall on the unstable platform (large SD), but small λ1 indicated that movement was controlled. During second task performance, SD increased for the upper body only. Further research is necessary to understand the interaction between attention and balance in young adults.
- Largest Lyapunov exponent
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)