Effect of noise stimulation below and above sensory threshold on postural sway during a mildly challenging balance task Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Mechanical and electrical sub-sensory noise stimulation applied to the sensory receptors has been shown to improve performance during postural balance tasks. This improvement has been linked with the Stochastic Resonance (SR) phenomenon. It is not clear if noise levels above sensory threshold can also lead to a reduction in postural sway. RESEARCH QUESTION:The aim of this study was to investigate the different effects of sub- and super-sensory electrical noise stimulation applied to the Tibialis Anterior muscle during several repetitions of a mildly challenging single-leg postural balance task. METHODS:Fifteen healthy individuals participated in this study. Participants performed 25 repetitions of a balance tasks where they leaned forward and maintained a pre-determined position for 20 s. Each participant experienced 5 different stimulation levels (no-stimulation, 70%, 90%, 110% and 130% of their sensory threshold ST) for 5 times in a randomized order. Optimal stimulation (OS) was defined as the stimulation intensity minimizing the standard deviation of postural sway in the anteroposterior direction. RESULTS:∼57% of the participants presented levels of OS below ST. We did not observe a clear SR-effect, characterized by a U-shaped relationship between the performance metric and the stimulation intensity. OS led to a selective improvement in all the anteroposterior posturographic parameters analyzed. Stimulation below ST led to an improvement in most of the balance features, while stimulation above ST led to an increase in postural sway. SIGNIFICANCE:Our results suggest that OS can be found both below and above ST although stimulation below ST appears to be more effective in reducing postural sway.

publication date

  • 2018