Date of Award
Arousal; Cognitive load; Direct perception; Fear of falling; Older adults; Postural sway
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Falls in older adults put a great strain on Canadians in monetary terms and quality of life. Traditional motor theory proposes that declining systems crucial for balance along with reduced cognitive capacity are reasons for a high incidence in falls. However, this does not account for individual differences in perceptions of fallers vs. non-fallers. This exploratory study aimed to find an action-perception uncoupling in older adults at risk for falling to account for deficits in motor control. 21 healthy male and female adults with a mean age of 67.7 years were separated into Control of Fear of Falling groups. Participants stood on a force platform, completed various levels of cognitive tasks, and inspected several images of everyday outdoor environments of varying levels of difficulty to navigate, all while biofeedback and eye-tracking were being measured. Six 2(Group) * 3(Condition) mixed factorial ANOVAs with repeated measures and a correlation matrix to compare conditions were run. Results showed only significant main effects for heart rate F(2,18) = 29.817, p = .000 < .05, pupil size F(2,18) = 4.743, p = .022 < .05, and mean moving window F(2,18) = 10.918, p= .001 < .05 under cognitive load conditions. Encouraging insignificant differences between groups were observed, but a small sample size and unequal groups did not supply enough power to detect them.
Reaume, Shawn, "Linking Cognitive Load, Perception, and Postural Sway in Older Adults" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 7393.