Eye movements affect postural control in young and older females

Thomas, Neil M., Bampouras, Theodoros, Donovan, Tim and Dewhurst, Susan (2016) Eye movements affect postural control in young and older females. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8 .

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2016.00216

Abstract

Visual information is used for postural stabilization in humans. However, little is known about how eye movements prevalent in everyday life interact with the postural control system in older individuals. Therefore, the present study assessed the effects of stationary gaze fixations, smooth pursuits, and saccadic eye movements, with combinations of absent, fixed and oscillating large-field visual backgrounds to generate different forms of retinal flow, on postural control in healthy young and older females. Participants were presented with computer generated visual stimuli, whilst postural sway and gaze fixations were simultaneously assessed with a force platform and eye tracking equipment, respectively. The results showed that fixed backgrounds and stationary gaze fixations attenuated postural sway. In contrast, oscillating backgrounds and smooth pursuits increased postural sway. There were no differences regarding saccades. There were also no differences in postural sway or gaze errors between age groups in any visual condition. The stabilizing effect of the fixed visual stimuli show how retinal flow and extraocular factors guide postural adjustments. The destabilizing effect of oscillating visual backgrounds and smooth pursuits may be related to more challenging conditions for determining body shifts from retinal flow, and more complex extraocular signals, respectively. Because the older participants matched the young group's performance in all conditions, decreases of posture and gaze control during stance may not be a direct consequence of healthy aging. Further research examining extraocular and retinal mechanisms of balance control and the effects of eye movements, during locomotion, is needed to better inform fall prevention interventions.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publisher: Frontiers Media
ISSN: 1663-4365
Departments: Faculty of Health and Science > Medical and Sports Sciences > Sports and Physical Activity > Sport
Additional Information: Article 216. This document is protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission. PMID: 27695412. PMCID: PMC5025428.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 16:32
Last Modified: 31 May 2017 15:50
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/2456

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