The influence of auditory-motor coupling on fractal dynamics in human gait

Nathaniel Hunt, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Denise McGrath, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Nicholas Stergiou, University of Nebraska at Omaha

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Humans exhibit an innate ability to synchronize their movements to music. The field of gait rehabilitation has sought to capitalize on this phenomenon by invoking patients to walk in time to rhythmic auditory cues with a view to improving pathological gait. However, the temporal structure of the auditory cue, and hence the temporal structure of the target behavior has not been sufficiently explored. This study reveals the plasticity of auditory-motor coupling in human walking in relation to ‘complex’ auditory cues. The authors demonstrate that auditory-motor coupling can be driven by different coloured auditory noise signals (e.g. white, brown), shifting the fractal temporal structure of gait dynamics towards the statistical properties of the signals used. This adaptive capability observed in whole-body movement, could potentially be harnessed for targeted neuromuscular rehabilitation in patient groups, depending on the specific treatment goal.