Speed but not amplitude of visual feedback exacerbates force variability in older adults
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Magnification of visual feedback (VF) impairs force control in older adults. In this study, we aimed to determine whether the age-associated increase in force variability with magnification of visual feedback is a consequence of increased amplitude or speed of visual feedback. Seventeen young and 18 older adults performed a constant isometric force task with the index finger at 5% of MVC. We manipulated the vertical (force gain) and horizontal (time gain) aspect of the visual feedback so participants performed the task with the following VF conditions: (1) high amplitude-fast speed; (2) low amplitude-slow speed; (3) high amplitude-slow speed. Changing the visual feedback from low amplitude-slow speed to high amplitude-fast speed increased force variability in older adults but decreased it in young adults (P < 0.01). Changing the visual feedback from low amplitude-slow speed to high amplitude-slow speed did not alter force variability in older adults (P > 0.2), but decreased it in young adults (P < 0.01). Changing the visual feedback from high amplitude-slow speed to high amplitude-fast speed increased force variability in older adults (P < 0.01) but did not alter force variability in young adults (P > 0.2). In summary, increased force variability in older adults with magnification of visual feedback was evident only when the speed of visual feedback increased. Thus, we conclude that in older adults deficits in the rate of processing visual information and not deficits in the processing of more visual information impair force control.
KeywordsVisual information processing Visual gain Force variability Aging
This study was supported by R01 AG031769 to Evangelos A. Christou.
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