Postural control and head stability during natural gaze behaviour in 6- to 12- year-old children

Schärli, Andrea; van de Langenberg, Rolf; Murer, Kurt; Müller, R. M. (2013). Postural control and head stability during natural gaze behaviour in 6- to 12- year-old children. Experimental brain research, 227(4), pp. 523-534. Springer 10.1007/s00221-013-3528-y

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We investigated how the influence of natural exploratory gaze behaviour on postural control develops from childhood into adulthood. In a cross-sectional design, we compared four age groups: 6-, 9-, 12-year-olds and young adults. Two experimental trials were performed: quiet stance with a fixed gaze (fixed) and quiet stance with natural exploratory gaze behaviour (exploratory). The latter was elicited by having participants watch an animated short film on a large screen in front of them. 3D head rotations in space and centre of pressure (COP) excursions on the ground plane were measured. Across conditions, both head rotation and COP displacement decreased with increasing age. Head movement was greater in the exploratory condition in all age groups. In all children—but not in adults—COP displacement was markedly greater in the exploratory condition. Bivariate correlations across groups showed highly significant positive correlations between COP displacement in ML direction and head rotation in yaw, roll, and pitch in both conditions. The regularity of COP displacements did not show a clear developmental trend, which indicates that COP dynamics were qualitatively similar across age groups. Together, the results suggest that the contribution of head movement to eye-head saccades decreases with age and that head instability—in part resulting from such gaze-related head movements—is an important limiting factor in children’s postural control. The lack of head stabilisation might particularly affect children in everyday activities in which both postural control
and visual exploration are required.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Movement and Exercise Science

UniBE Contributor:

Schärli, Andrea


500 Science
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment






Andrea Melanie Schärli van de Langenberg

Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2018 09:34

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:18

Publisher DOI:





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