A standing posture is associated with increased susceptibility to the sound-induced flash illusion in fall-prone older adults
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- Stapleton, J., Setti, A., Doheny, E.P. et al. Exp Brain Res (2014) 232: 423. doi:10.1007/s00221-013-3750-7
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Recent research has provided evidence suggesting a link between inefficient processing of multisensory information and incidence of falling in older adults. Specifically, Setti et al. (Exp Brain Res 209:375–384, 2011) reported that older adults with a history of falling were more susceptible than their healthy, age-matched counterparts to the sound-induced flash illusion. Here, we investigated whether balance control in fall-prone older adults was directly associated with multisensory integration by testing susceptibility to the illusion under two postural conditions: sitting and standing. Whilst standing, fall-prone older adults had a greater body sway than the age-matched healthy older adults and their body sway increased when presented with the audio–visual illusory but not the audio–visual congruent conditions. We also found an increase in susceptibility to the sound-induced flash illusion during standing relative to sitting for fall-prone older adults only. Importantly, no performance differences were found across groups in either the unisensory or non-illusory multisensory conditions across the two postures. These results suggest an important link between multisensory integration and balance control in older adults and have important implications for understanding why some older adults are prone to falling.