Towards the Neuromotor Control Processes of Steady-State and Speed-Matched Treadmill and Overground Walking

  • Fabian Herold
  • Norman Aye
  • Dennis HamacherEmail author
  • Lutz Schega
Original Paper


The neuromotor control of walking relies on a network of subcortical and cortical structures. While kinematic differences between treadmill and overground walking are extensively studied, the neuromotor control processes are still relatively unknown. Hence, this study aims to investigate cortical activation during steady-state treadmill and overground walking using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, inertial measurement units and a heart rate monitor. We observed a higher concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin in prefrontal cortices, premotor cortices and supplementary motor areas during treadmill walking. Therefore, our results suggest that treadmill walking requires higher demands on cortical neuromotor control.


Steady state walking fNIRS Gait Motor control 



  1. Barbeau H, Wainberg M, Finch L (1987) Description and application of a system for locomotor rehabilitation. Med Biol Eng Comput 25:341–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benjamini Y, Hochberg Y (1995) Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J R Stat Soc B 57:289–300Google Scholar
  3. Brigadoi S, Ceccherini L, Cutini S, Scarpa F, Scatturin P, Selb J, Gagnon L, Boas DA, Cooper RJ (2014) Motion artifacts in functional near-infrared spectroscopy: a comparison of motion correction techniques applied to real cognitive data. NeuroImage 85:181–191. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark DJ (2015) Automaticity of walking: functional significance, mechanisms, measurement and rehabilitation strategies. Front Hum Neurosci. Google Scholar
  5. Clark DJ, Christou EA, Ring SA, Williamson JB, Doty L (2014) Enhanced somatosensory feedback reduces prefrontal cortical activity during walking in older adults. J Gerontol A 69:1422–1428. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Glickman ME, Rao SR, Schultz MR (2014) False discovery rate control is a recommended alternative to Bonferroni-type adjustments in health studies. J Clin Epidemiol 67:850–857. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hamacher D, Hamacher D, Taylor WR, Singh NB, Schega L (2014) Towards clinical application: repetitive sensor position re-calibration for improved reliability of gait parameters. Gait Posture 39:1146–1148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hamacher D, Herold F, Wiegel P, Hamacher D, Schega L (2015) Brain activity during walking: a systematic review. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews 57:310–327. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hamacher D, Törpel A, Hamacher D, Schega L (2016) The effect of physical exhaustion on gait stability in young and older individuals. Gait Posture 48:137–139. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harada T, Miyai I, Suzuki M, Kubota K (2009) Gait capacity affects cortical activation patterns related to speed control in the elderly. Exp Brain Res 193:445–454. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hausdorff JM, Yogev G, Springer S, Simon ES, Giladi N (2005) Walking is more like catching than tapping: gait in the elderly as a complex cognitive task. Exp Brain Res 164:541–548. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hausdorff JM, Maidan I, Elazari H, Nieuwhof F, Gazit E, Mirelman A (2016) Reduced frontal lobe activation during treadmill walking: new evidence of motor-cognitive links. Gerontologist 56:250–251. Google Scholar
  13. Herold F, Wiegel P, Scholkmann F, Thiers A, Hamacher D, Schega L (2017) Functional near-infrared spectroscopy in movement science: a systematic review on cortical activity in postural and walking tasks. Neurophoton 4:41403. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hoshi Y, Kobayashi N, Tamura M (2001) Interpretation of near-infrared spectroscopy signals: a study with a newly developed perfused rat brain model. J Appl Physiol 90:1657–1662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Huppert TJ, Diamond SG, Franceschini MA, Boas DA (2009) HomER: a review of time-series analysis methods for near-infrared spectroscopy of the brain. Appl Opt 48:98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuruma H, Watanabe S, Ikeda Y, Senoo A, Kikuchi Y, Abo M, Yonemoto K (2007) Neural mechanism of self-initiated and externally triggered finger movements. J Phys Ther Sci 19:103–109. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lu C-F, Liu Y-C, Yang Y-R, Wu Y-T, Wang R-Y, Lebedev MA (2015) Maintaining gait performance by cortical activation during dual-task interference: a functional near-infrared spectroscopy study. PLoS ONE 10:e0129390. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Matsas A, Taylor N, McBurney H (2000) Knee joint kinematics from familiarised treadmill walking can be generalised to overground walking in young unimpaired subjects. Gait Posture 11:46–53. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Miller EK (2000) The prefrontal cortex and cognitive control. Nat Rev Neurosci 1:59–65. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miyai I, Tanabe HC, Sase I, Eda H, Oda I, Konishi I, Tsunazawa Y, Suzuki T, Yanagida T, Kubota K (2001) Cortical mapping of gait in humans: a near-infrared spectroscopic topography study. NeuroImage 14:1186–1192. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Obrig H, Villringer A (2003) Beyond the visible—imaging the human brain with light. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 23:1–18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Redgrave P, Rodriguez M, Smith Y, Rodriguez-Oroz MC, Lehericy S, Bergman H, Agid Y, DeLong MR, Obeso JA (2010) Goal-directed and habitual control in the basal ganglia: implications for Parkinson’s disease. Nat Rev Neurosci 11:760–772. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Regnaux JP, Roberston J, Smail DB, Daniel O, Bussel B (2006) Human treadmill walking needs attention. J Neuroeng Rehabil 3:19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Scholkmann F, Wolf M (2012) Measuring brain activity using functional near infrared spectroscopy: a short review. Spectrosc Eur 24:6–10Google Scholar
  25. Scholkmann F, Wolf M (2013) General equation for the differential pathlength factor of the frontal human head depending on wavelength and age. J Biomed Opt 18:105004. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Strangman G, Culver JP, Thompson JH, Boas DA (2002) A quantitative comparison of simultaneous BOLD fMRI and NIRS recordings during functional brain activation. NeuroImage 17:719–731. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tachtsidis I, Scholkmann F (2016) False positives and false negatives in functional near-infrared spectroscopy: issues, challenges, and the way forward. Neurophotonics 3:30401. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tarvainen MP, Niskanen J-P, Lipponen JA, Ranta-Aho PO, Karjalainen PA (2014) Kubios HRV–heart rate variability analysis software. Comput Methods Programs Biomed 113:210–220. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Task Force of The European Society of Cardiology and The North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (1996) Heart rate variability. Eur Heart J 17:28–29. Google Scholar
  30. Taylor NF, Goldie PA, Evans OM (1999) Angular movements of the pelvis and lumbar spine during self-selected and slow walking speeds. Gait Posture 9:88–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Toronov VY, Zhang X, Webb AG (2007) A spatial and temporal comparison of hemodynamic signals measured using optical and functional magnetic resonance imaging during activation in the human primary visual cortex. NeuroImage 34:1136–1148. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Toyomura A, Shibata M, Kuriki S (2012) Self-paced and externally triggered rhythmical lower limb movements: a functional MRI study. Neurosci Lett 516:39–44. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wiggins IM, Hartley DEH (2015) A synchrony-dependent influence of sounds on activity in visual cortex measured using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). PLoS ONE 10:e0122862. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wood JN, Grafman J (2003) Human prefrontal cortex: processing and representational perspectives. Nat Rev Neurosci 4:139–147. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wrightson JG, Smeeton NJ (2017) Walking modality, but not task difficulty, influences the control of dual-task walking. Gait Posture 58:136–138. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Xhyheri B, Manfrini O, Mazzolini M, Pizzi C, Bugiardini R (2012) Heart rate variability today. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 55:321–331. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute III, Department of Sport ScienceOtto von Guericke University MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.German Center for Neurodegenerative DiseasesNeuroprotection LabMagdeburgGermany

Personalised recommendations