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Anticipatory Postural Activity (9400423)
Research Area:
Muscle physiology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

This investigation assessed the impact of microgravity on anticipatory postural activity during and after space flight. The goal of this investigation was to understand the underlying sensorimotor adaptations made by the body in microgravity, which are still present postflight. These adaptations were monitored by investigating posture control during voluntary arm movements, thus providing a better understanding of balance and locomotion in humans.

The purpose of the inflight portion of the investigation was to determine whether foot pressure could be used to enhance neuromuscular activation during upper limb movements while free floating. Determining whether foot sensory input enhances lower limb and trunk neuromuscular activity could result in a relatively inexpensive, yet highly effective countermeasure against muscle atrophy. In addition, foot pressure may eliminate inflight spatial orientation disturbances. The postflight component of the experiment addressed postural control problems reported by many astronauts. These difficulties include increased sway while standing, difficulty in rounding corners, and increased body segment movements during locomotion. The postflight postural stability was assessed using subject-initiated limb movements.

The objectives of this experiment were:

  1. To determine how long-duration space flight alters the anticipatory neuromuscular activity associated with arm movement,
  2. To perform proof-of-concept research to determine whether foot sensory input modifies neuromuscular responses during space flight,
  3. To determine the time course of adaptation during long-duration space flight to foot sensory input as measured by patterns of neuromuscular activation,
  4. To determine whether long-duration space flight modifies anticipatory neuromuscular postural activity in the immediate postflight period, and
  5. To determine whether modifications in anticipatory neuromuscular postural activity associated with long-duration space flight are correlated with postural instability immediately after landing and during the recovery period.

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Layne CS, Mulavara AP, McDonald PV, Pruett CJ, Kozlovskaya IB, Bloomberg JJ. Effect of long-duration spaceflight on postural control during self-generated perturbations. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2001 March; 90(3):997-1006. []

Layne CS, Mulavara AP, Pruett CJ, McDonald PV, Kozlovskaya IB, Bloomberg JJ. The use of foot pressure as a countermeasure to neuromuscular degradation. Acta Astronautica. 1998; 42(1-8):231-246. []


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Data Information
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Electromyogram (EMG)
Postural control

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
NASA 2 03/22/1996 09/26/1996 189 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
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