Journal article Open Access

Early Blindness Limits the Head-Trunk Coordination Development for Horizontal Reorientation

Esposito, Davide; Bollini, Alice; Gori, Monica

During locomotion, goal-directed orientation movements in the horizontal plane require a high degree of head-trunk coordination. This coordination is acquired during childhood. Since early visual loss is linked to motor control deficits, we hypothesize that it may also affect the development of head-trunk coordination for horizontal rotations. However, no direct evidence exists about such a deficit. To assess this hypothesis, we tested early blind and sighted individuals on dynamic sound alignment through a head-pointing task with sounds delivered in acoustic virtual reality. Participants could perform the head-pointing with no constraints, or they were asked to immobilize their trunk voluntarily. Kinematics of head and trunk were assessed individually and with respect to each other, together with spatial task performance. Results indicated a head-trunk coordination deficit in the early blind group; yet, they could dampen their trunk movements so as not to let their coordination deficit affect spatial performance. This result highlights the role of vision in the development of head-trunk coordination for goal-directed horizontal rotations. It also calls for clarification on the impact of the blindness-related head-trunk coordination deficit on the performance of more complex tasks akin to daily life activities such as steering during locomotion or reaching to targets placed sideways.

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