When What’s Left Is Right: Visuomotor Transformations in an Aged Population
There has been little consensus as to whether age-related visuomotor adaptation effects are readily observable. Some studies have found slower adaptation, and/or reduced overall levels. In contrast, other methodologically similar studies have found no such evidence of aging effects on visuomotor adaptation. A crucial early step in successful adaptation is the ability to perform the necessary transformation to complete the task at hand. The present study describes the use of a viewing window paradigm to examine the effects of aging in a visuomotor transformation task.
Two groups of participants, a young adult control group (age range 18–33 years old, mean age = 22) and an older adult group (age range 62–74, mean age = 68) completed a viewing window task that was controlled by the user via a computer touchscreen. Four visuomotor “flip” conditions were created by varying the relationship between the participant’s movement, and the resultant on-screen movement of the viewing window: 1) No flip 2) X-Axis and Y-axis body movements resulted in the opposite direction of movement of the viewing window. In each of the 3) Flip-X and 4) Flip-Y conditions, the solitary X- or Y-axes were reversed. Response times and movement of the window were recorded.
Older participants demonstrated impairments in performing a required visuomotor transformation, as evidenced by more complex scanning patterns and longer scanning times when compared to younger control participants. These results provide additional evidence that the mechanisms involved in visuomotor transformation are negatively affected by age.
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