Older adults experience more difficulties completing goal directed movements than younger adults. The reasons for this have not been completely elucidated within the research literature; however, it is thought that age related movement differences are due to at least one of three possible reasons. The current study investigated the influence of these three hypotheses: (1) biomechanical changes (limbs, joints, or muscles), (2) sensory feedback processing ability, or (3) differences in overall movement strategy on movement kinematics. Additionally, physical activi-ty is known to improve both physical and cognitive functioning and staying cognitively active may also attenuate age-related declines in cognitive ability; thus the current study also examined the impact of physical and mental fitness on movement performance across the lifespan. Both active and sedentary young and old adults completed different experimental conditions to de-termine how biomechanical ability, sensory processing ability, and individual differences impact different kinematic aspects of movement performance. Participants completed two different Fitts' pointing tasks where difficulty was manipulated by either increasing biomechanical effort and/or amount of feedback processing needed to complete each movement. Results indicated that distance impacted movement more than width for all participants indicated by a greater ID-MT slope. While increasing age was associated with an increases slope, the larger finding was that age increased the overall time. Thus, it was concluded that distance and width constraints are processed by similar processes regardless of age, but these processes slow with age. Cardio-vascular fitness attenuated declines in the distance condition while mental fitness attenuated those in the width condition. Further supporting a theory of differential movement constraints.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Rupp, Michael, "Examining the Role of Cardiovascular and Cognitive Fitness in Goal-directed Aiming Across the Lifespan" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5643.