The effects of eye movements on postural control in young and older adults

Thomas, Neil (2018) The effects of eye movements on postural control in young and older adults. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria (awarded by Lancaster University).

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Eye movements are used day-to-day to acquire visual information. Vision is also used for postural control. There are growing indications eye movements can affect postural control. However, this has not been investigated in older adults, which is surprising given the high incidence of falls in older populations. The present thesis aims to address this. The first experimental chapter explores the effects of eye movements on balance during standing in young and older adults. The findings show decreased stability during smooth pursuits, whereas saccades maintained stability to that when fixating a static target. The older adults matched the younger groups performance throughout. The second experimental chapter explores the effects of smooth pursuits and saccades on balance during locomotion in young and older adults. Smooth pursuits were shown to decrease stability, whilst saccades maintained stability compared to fixating a static target. The effects of the eye movements were similar in the older adults. However, the elders exhibited lower baseline stability. The third experimental chapter explores the effects of tracking a real-world stimulus (another person known as `pedestrian') on balance control during locomotion. The pedestrian could be standing still or walking. Fixating the stationary and the walking pedestrian decreased stability similarly when compared to free gaze when the pedestrian was not present. To determine whether these results were transferable to natural gaze rather than instructed gaze, the fourth experimental chapter explores free gaze patterns in a similar real-world environment. Both the young and older adults typically fixated the pedestrian when he was standing still and walking, but began to ignore him once he had walked away from their direction heading. Therefore, experiment 3 behaviour was transferable to natural gaze patterns. The older adults also adopted a more cautious approach by fixating regions on the ground initially, and for longer, before looking to their direction heading.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Pre June 2020 Academic Departments and Services > Academic Departments > Medical & Sport Sciences (MSS) > Sports and Physical Activity
Depositing User: Theodoros Bampouras
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2018 10:30
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 14:31


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