Experimental studies of human walking have shown that within an individual step, variations in the center of mass (CoM) state can predict corresponding variations in the next foot placement. This has been interpreted by some to indicate the existence of active control in which the nervous system uses the CoM state at or near mid-stance to regulate subsequent foot placement. However, the passive dynamics of the moving body and/or moving limbs also contribute (perhaps strongly) to foot placement, and thus to its variation. The extent to which correlations of CoM state to foot placement reflect the effects of within-step active control, those of passive dynamics, or some combination of both, remains an important and still open question. Here, we used an open-loop-stable 2D walking model to show that this predictive ability cannot by itself be taken as evidence of within-step active control. In our simulations, we too find high correlations between the CoM state and subsequent foot placement, but these correlations are entirely due to passive dynamics as our system has no active control, either within a step or between steps. This demonstrates that any inferences made from such correlations about within-step active control require additional supporting evidence beyond the correlations themselves. Thus, these within-step predictive correlations leave unresolved the relative importance of within-step active control as compared to passive dynamics, meaning that such methods should be used to characterize control in human walking only with caution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering