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Investigating age-related differences in visual sampling behaviour during adaptive locomotion and their consequences for stepping accuracy

Young, William Richard (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Older adults at a high-risk of falling (HROA) look away prematurely from targets they are stepping on in order to fixate future constraints in their walking path. This gaze behaviour is associated with decreased stepping accuracy. The first aim of this thesis was to investigate a possible causal link between premature redirection of gaze from a target and reduced stepping accuracy. Results showed that when older adults voluntarily delayed gaze transfer from a target, their foot placement showed greater accuracy and consistency. Secondly, we investigated a possible relationship between increased anxiety about upcoming obstacles and early gaze transfers away from an initial target. We found that progressively increasing task complexity resulted in associated increases in anxiety, extent of early gaze transfers and stepping inaccuracies in HROA. Finally, we investigated the extent to which young, low-risk older adults and HROA can perform visually guided online alterations to foot trajectory during the swing phase towards a target. We found that adjustments made by older adults (specifically HROA) were characterised by increased latencies and reduced magnitude. We suggest that age- and fall-risk related differences in strategies governing visual sampling and the allocation of attention during adaptive locomotion contribute to incidences of elderly falls.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
Subjects:RC1200 Sports Medicine
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:850
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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