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Dynamical analyses of postural development

Bennett I. Bertenthal

Steven M. Boker

James L. Rose

Department of Psychology
The University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903


Posture is a mechanical state that concerns the maintenance of equilibrium. It is foundational to all human movements and actions. Consider the task of standing. It is accomplished in a variety of contexts, with various ground surfaces that are solid, compliant, slippery, while you are engaged in other actions such as looking at or reaching for or catching objects. As you move, the posture of the body is continually changing in order to remain adapted to the local contingencies of gravity, reactive forces, and surfaces of support. It is for this reason that posture is best conceptualized as a dynamic process involving complex sensory-motor interactions.

Our research is concerned with the dynamics of postural control and how those control processes change with age. In this paper, we review some of our recent research with nonlinear dynamical analyses to investigate dynamical changes in infants responses to postural perturbations while sitting. The paper will follow the above outline: (1) Brief summary of previous methods and findings; (2) Experimental design of current research; (3) Linear systems analyses of perception-action coupling; (4) Dynamical analyses of the structure and stability of the postural response.

Steven M. Boker
Thu Aug 17 10:10:02 EDT 1995