Postural anxiety influences the allocation of attentional resources among younger and older adults

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Kempster, Cody C.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Kinesiology, 2010
The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the influence of postural anxiety on the capacity for Flexible Resource Allocation (FRA) among younger (YA) and older adults (OA). Two experiments were conducted to explore (a) the influence of heightened postural anxiety on the flexible allocation of attention among OA and (b) the influence of concurrent postural challenge and postural anxiety on FRA among YA. Participants performed a postural task concurrently to a cognitive task according to three instructional sets directing task priority. Experiment one revealed that FRA was compromised among OA during circumstances of heightened anxiety. This capacity however, remained available among YA. Therefore, for the second experiment I varied the support surface to explore whether the capacity for FRA could be sustained when posture was challenged beyond static stance. Results indicated that YA altered cognitive task performance according to instructional set without compromising postural stability. These findings suggest that even when posture is challenged during heightened postural anxiety, YA maintain the capacity to automatically allocate attention to a postural task while performing a secondary task. Conversely, it seems that heightened postural anxiety strengthens the attentional bias to posture and subsequently compromises FRA among OA. Overall, results from this thesis suggest that the capacity for FRA is age and situation dependent.
xi, 107 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm
Posture -- Research , Equilibrium (Physiology) -- Research , Older people -- Orientation and mobility -- Research , Falls (Accidents) in old age -- Research , Dissertations, Academic