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Title: Active aging and visuomotor control of manual aiming movements
Other Titles: Actieve veroudering en de visuomotorische controle van manuele reiktaken
Authors: Van Halewyck, Florian
Issue Date: 21-Nov-2014
Abstract: Elderly people often encounter problems in visuomotor interaction with their environment due to substantial declines in the functioning of their sensory-motor and cognitive systems. As a result of this deterioration, the elderly seem to use visual feedback for online corrections in manual aiming more so than younger people do. Studies of age-related differences in discrete aiming tasks have indicated that older adults spend more time decelerating their goal-directed movements when homing-in on the target to achieve the same degree of accuracy. As the deceleration phase is associated with feedback-based adjustments to the ongoing movement, it has been suggested that older adults are more dependent on visual feedback to monitor and control goal-directed movements. Accordingly, adequate visuomotor integration is increasingly important for everyday functioning of the elderly. Consequently, it seems that elderly need to find a new strategy to cope with the aforementioned declines in performance by employing a new optimal combination of open- and closed-loop control (related to central planning processes and feedback-based adjustments, respectively), counting less on the former and more on the latter. To date, no attempt has been made to document age-related changes in the visual control of elderly during goal-directed actions. How and to what extent the elderly actually compensate for these declines remains therefore an intriguing question. In this view, the principal aim of this project will be to examine how visuomotor control changes as a result of aging based on detailed recording of eye-movement patterns in parallel to those of the hand trajectory. The main hypothesis is: elderly adopt a ‘play-it-safe’ strategy in visually guided movements by relying relatively more on the use of online visual feedback compared to young adults. In addition, we will also study the neural mechanisms that are involved in this open- and closed-loop control, using non-invasive neurophysiological techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Finally, it is expected that physical activity will have a positive effect on the aging process and therefore these age-related differences in strategy should be less significant in active older adults.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Movement Control & Neuroplasticity Research Group

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