Illusory changes in head position induced by neck muscle vibration can alter the perception of elbow position

Joanna Knox, Rachel Skoss, Paul Cordo, Shane Durrant, Paul Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Acuity for elbow joint position sense (JPS) is reduced when head position is modified. Movement of the head is associated with biomechanical changes in the neck and shoulder musculoskeletal system, which may explain changes in elbow JPS. The present study aimed to determine whether elbow JPS is also influenced by illusory changes in head position. Simultaneous vibration of sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and the contralateral splenius was applied to 14 healthy adult human subjects. Muscle vibration or passive head rotation was introduced between presentation and reproduction of a target elbow position. Ten out of 14 subjects reported illusions consistent with lengthening of the vibrated muscles. In these 10 subjects, absolute error for elbow JPS increased with left SCM/right splenius vibration but not with right SCM/left splenius vibration. Absolute error also increased with right rotation, with a trend for increased error with left rotation. These results demonstrated that both actual and illusory changes in head position are associated with diminished acuity for elbow JPS, suggesting that the influence of head position on upper limb JPS depends, at least partially, on perceived head position. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1217
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Joint position sense
  • Proprioception
  • Upper limb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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