Abstract - Healthy aging is accompanied by a decline in many perceptual, cognitive, and motor abilities, which can lead to a loss of autonomy and health risks, most notably falls. Postural control and safe/successful navigation require the integration of sensory information (visual, vestibular and somatosensory), associated with multiple cognitive functions (e.g., attention, planning, memory). Among the factors contributing to daily living risks in older age, some may be associated with a degradation in sensory (re)weighting and a greater reliance on visual cues. Indeed, with older age, there is a greater reliance on visual feedback for postural control, especially with regards to the ground surface. This visual dependence, however, implies a lack of adaptability and often a sub-optimal exploitation of visual cues, given that older adults are also less able to ignore disorienting visual contextual information and to appropriately allocate and share attentional resources. Postural control is therefore an even greater challenge for older adults whilst in unfamiliar, complex, or dynamically changing environments.
In this talk, I will present findings from my doctoral and postdoctoral work on visual-postural interactions in aging, focusing on 1) perceptive and motor manifestations of visual dependence from young, to middle-aged, to older adults, and 2) the postural contribution to aging spatial cognition. I will discuss these topics in terms of individuals’ sensorimotor and cognitive profiles and with the perspective of rehabilitation/training to preserve autonomy in older age.
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