The Effects of Aging on the Ability to Make Optimal Corrective Actions During Reaching Movements
Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) forum
Rapid motor corrections allow us to make evasive actions to avoid knocking over objects in a cluttered workspace when reaching, and to navigate around other people in a crowded room. The objective of this research is to identify the cognitive mechanisms that contribute to our ability to make rapid evasive actions in response to sensory feedback during ongoing movements, and to establish how these mechanisms are impacted by aging. In the current study, we used a robotic device (Kinarm, BKin Technologies) to apply unpredictable visual “cursor shifts” while participants reached for visual targets and tried to avoid haptic obstacles. The obstacles were positioned to the right and left of a straight path from the start position to a target; upon contact with the participant’s cursor obstacles applied a repulsive force to simulate a collision with a real obstacle. On each trial the cursor briefly disappeared behind a rectangular occluder positioned in front of the start position, and emerged either unperturbed, or shifted by a small, medium, or large distance to the left or right of the original path. The medium-shift placed the cursor in a collision course with one of the obstacles, and required a corrective movement to avoid making contact. For the no-shift and small-shift trials, and the large-shift trials corrective movements were not necessary to guide the cursor between or around the outside of the obstacles, respectively. We tested the prediction that older adults (60-85 years old) would perform less optimal corrections more frequently than younger adults (18-35 years old). Finally, we probed for individual differences in the efficiency with which older adults made rapid corrective actions by administering a battery of perceptuomotor and cognitive tasks. This battery allowed us to identify factors that best predict impairments in performance on the obstacle avoidance task in later adulthood.
Monday, October 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Harold Meese Center, 109
1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931