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Amy Hackney, Michael Cinelli; The effects of aging on action and visual strategies when walking through apertures. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1027. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1027.
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Avoiding collisions with objects is a requirement of everyday locomotion. The actions individuals take to move through a cluttered environment are governed by how passable one perceives the open space to be. Naturally, people want to avoid colliding with objects to reduce the risk of injury. In the current study the participants (N=13) walked along an 8m path at their self-selected speed towards a static door aperture. The aperture varied in width from 40-90cm. The participants were instructed to safely pass through the aperture using a suitable method. The objectives of the study were to determine: (1) if the actions of older adults (i.e. critical point, velocity change onset, & shoulder rotation onset) are different from those previously reported with young adults (Warren & Whang, 1987); (2) if gaze behaviours (i.e. fixation locations and durations) are different from those reported from younger adults (Higuchi et al., 2009)); and (3) if fixation patterns are reflective of action differences. Preliminary results indicate that older adults use different action strategies when approaching and passing through apertures than young adults. Older adults appear to have a larger critical point (i.e. aperture width/shoulder width) than previously reported in younger adults (i.e. 1.5 vs. 1.3). Further analysis will determine whether older adults have similar sequential action changes (i.e. velocity change followed by shoulder rotation initiation) as younger adults (Cinelli & Patla, 2007). Preliminary data analysis has also shown that older adults' fixation patterns were different from younger adults when approaching the aperture. Older adults appear to direct fixations towards the floor and more towards the door edges than younger adults during a similar task. These results suggest that the nature of the older adults' fixation patterns are directly influencing their “cautious” actions when passing through door apertures.
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