Joint-level coordination patterns for split-belt walking across different speed ratios

Robert E. Kambic, Ryan T. Roemmich, Amy J. Bastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Locomotion is a highly flexible process, requiring rapid changes to gait due to changes in the environment or goals. Here, we used a split-belt treadmill to examine how the central nervous system coordinates a novel gait pattern. Existing research has focused on summary measures, most often step lengths, when describing changes induced while walking on the split-belt treadmill and during subsequent aftereffects. Here, we asked how the nervous system adjusts individual joint motions and the coordination pattern of the legs when people walk with one leg moving at either 2x, 3x, or 4x the speed of the other leg. We found that relative to tied-belt walking, split-belt perturbations change the timing relationships between the legs while most joint angle peaks and range of motion change little. The kinematic changes over the course of adaptation (i.e., from the beginning to end of a single split-belt walking bout) were subtle, particularly when comparing individual joint motions. The magnitude of the belt speed differences impacted intralimb coordination but did not produce consistent differences in most other measures. Most significant changes in kinematics occurred in the fast leg. Overall, interlimb timing changes drove a large proportion of the differences observed between tied-belt and split-belt gaits. Thus, it appears that the central nervous system can produce novel gait patterns through changes in coordination between legs that lead to new configurations at significant time points. These patterns can use within-limb and within-joint patterns that closely resemble those of normal walking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-983
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • adaptation
  • motor control
  • motor learning
  • split-belt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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