Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





Arousal; Cognitive load; Direct perception; Fear of falling; Older adults; Postural sway


McNevin, Nancy




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.