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Mila Sugovic, Jessica Witt; An older view on distance perception: Age affects perception of walkable extents. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):80. doi: 10.1167/11.11.80.
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Spatial perception is affected by the specific energetic cost required to perform an action. Hills appear steeper to people who are wearing a heavy backpack, are fatigued, or are elderly (Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999). In the current experiment, we examined the effect of age on distance perception. We found that distances appeared farther to older adults as compared to younger adults. Older adults did not overestimate in general, suggesting that the effect of age on distance perception is only for action relevant lengths. Additionally, we showed that certain types of floor surfaces that decrease walking ability, such as plastic, make distances look even farther away for older adults while this effect does not occur in younger adults. These results suggest that a long term decline in physiological potential in older adults affects distance perception and that certain floor types that are harder to walk on amplify this effect.
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