Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Kinesiology

Supervisor

Nagamatsu, Lindsay S.

Abstract

Approximately 30% of older adults experience one or more falls annually. The ability to properly allocate attention may be a risk factor falls. Our study examined whether older adults (aged 58-79) with a history of falls, allocated attention differently to auditory distractor stimuli compared to those without a history of falls, and whether such differences subsequently altered cognitive processing of visual target stimuli. We examined allocation of attention using event-related potentials (ERPs) as participants responded to visual targets while ignoring task-irrelevant auditory distractors. A posterior to anterior shift in electrical brain activity was exaggerated in the faller group compared to the non-faller group when cognitively processing the visual target stimuli. This suggests differences in the way stimuli are cognitively processed and classified between fallers and non-fallers.

Keywords: falls, attention, allocation, risk, EEG, ERP, cross-modal, older adults.


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