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Data from: Adaptive multi-objective control explains how humans make lateral maneuvers while walking

Cite this dataset

Desmet, David; Cusumano, Joseph; Dingwell, Jonathan (2022). Data from: Adaptive multi-objective control explains how humans make lateral maneuvers while walking [Dataset]. Dryad.


To successfully traverse their environment, humans often perform maneuvers to achieve desired task goals while simultaneously maintaining balance. Humans accomplish these tasks primarily by modulating their foot placements. As humans are more unstable laterally, we must better understand how humans modulate lateral foot placement. We previously developed a theoretical framework and corresponding computational models to describe how humans regulate lateral stepping during straight-ahead continuous walking. We identified goal functions for step width and lateral body position that define the walking task and determine the set of all possible task solutions as Goal Equivalent Manifolds (GEMs). Here, we used this framework to determine if humans can regulate lateral stepping during non-steady-state lateral maneuvers by minimizing errors consistent with these goal functions. Twenty young healthy adults each performed four lateral lane-change maneuvers in a virtual reality environment. Extending our general lateral stepping regulation framework, we first re-examined the requirements of such transient walking tasks.  Doing so yielded new theoretical predictions regarding how steps during any such maneuver should be regulated to minimize error costs, consistent with the goals required at each step and with how these costs are adapted at each step during the maneuver.  Humans performed the experimental lateral maneuvers in a manner consistent with our theoretical predictions. Furthermore, their stepping behavior was well modeled by allowing the parameters of our previous lateral stepping models to adapt from step to step. To our knowledge, our results are the first to demonstrate humans might use evolving cost landscapes in real time to perform such an adaptive motor task and, furthermore, that such adaptation can occur quickly – over only one step.  Thus, the predictive capabilities of our general stepping regulation framework extend to a much greater range of walking tasks beyond just normal, straight-ahead walking.


Raw kinematic (human motion) data were recorded by a Vicon system ( These data were filtered in Vicon, processed in Matlab to extract the individual stepping data (lateral positions of each foot at each step for each trial, etc) using accepted, previously-published methods, as described in our manuscript. All stepping data are provided in this data set.

Stepping data were then further analyzed to assess stepping dynamic for the lateral lane-change task that was the focus of this study and the task that participants executed in our experiments. All codes (Matlab) for these subsequent analyses are provided with this data set.

Usage notes

All data and codes provided are written in Matlab (

Data files are in Matlab *.mat format

There are multiple open-source alternatives to Matlab. Two common alternatives include GNU Octave ( and SciLab (, but numerous others exist as well.


National Institute on Aging, Award: R01-AG049735

National Institute on Aging, Award: R21-AG053470