Multisensory Conflict Impairs Cortico-Muscular Network Connectivity and Postural Stability: Insights from Partial Directed Coherence Analysis

 Guozheng Wang1,2,3  · Yi Yang3  · Kangli Dong1  · Anke Hua3  · Jian Wang3,4 · Jun Liu1,2
1 Key Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering of Ministry of Education, College of Biomedical Engineering & Instrument Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China 
2 Taizhou Key Laboratory of Medical Devices and Advanced Materials, Research Institute of Zhejiang University-Taizhou, Taizhou 318000, China 
3 Department of Sports Science, College of Education, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China 
4 Center for Psychological Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China

Sensory conflict impacts postural control, yet its effect on cortico-muscular interaction remains underexplored. We aimed to investigate sensory conflict’s influence on the cortico-muscular network and postural stability. We used a rotating platform and virtual reality to present subjects with congruent and incongruent sensory input, recorded EEG (electroencephalogram) and EMG (electromyogram) data, and constructed a directed connectivity network. The results suggest that, compared to sensory congruence, during sensory conflict: (1) connectivity among the sensorimotor, visual, and posterior parietal cortex generally decreases, (2) cortical control over the muscles is weakened, (3) feedback from muscles to the cortex is strengthened, and (4) the range of body sway increases and its complexity decreases. These results underline the intricate effects of sensory conflict on cortico-muscular networks. During the sensory conflict, the brain adaptively decreases the integration of conflicting information. Without this integrated information, cortical control over muscles may be lessened, whereas the muscle feedback may be enhanced in compensation.

Cortico-muscular interaction; Postural control; Virtual reality; Electroencephalogram; Electromyography; Sensory integration