Visually fixating or tracking another person decreases balance control in young and older females walking in a real-world scenario

Thomas, Neil M. and Donovan, Tim and Dewhurst, Susan and Bampouras, Theodoros M. (2018) Visually fixating or tracking another person decreases balance control in young and older females walking in a real-world scenario. Neuroscience Letters, 677. pp. 78-83. ISSN 0304-3940

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Balance control during overground walking was assessed in 10 young (23.6 ± 3.4) and 10 older (71.0 ± 5.5 years) healthy females during free gaze, and when fixating or tracking another person in an everyday use waiting room. Balance control was characterised by medial/lateral sacrum acceleration dispersion, and gaze fixations were simultaneously assessed with eye tracking equipment. The results showed decreased balance control when fixating a stationary (p = 0.003, gav = 0.19) and tracking a walking (p = 0.027, gav = 0.16) person compared to free gaze. The older adults exhibited reduced baseline stability throughout, but the decrease caused by the visual tasks was not more profound than the younger adults. The decreased balance control when fixating on or tracking the observed person was likely due to more challenging conditions for interpreting retinal flow, which facilitated less reliable estimates of self-motion through vision. The older adults either processed retinal flow during the tasks as effectively as the young adults, or they adopted a more rigid posture to facilitate visual stability, which masked any ageing effect of the visual tasks. The decrease in balance control, the first to be shown in this context, may warrant further investigation in those with ocular or vestibular dysfunction.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Neuroscience Letters
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuroscience Letters. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Neuroscience Letters, 677, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.04.038
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? elderly gaiteye movementspostural controlsmooth pursuitstrunk accelerationswalking balanceneuroscience(all) ??
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Deposited On:
09 Oct 2018 12:58
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:59