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Title: The influence of anxiety and attentional focus on visual search during adaptive gait
Authors: Ellmers, T
Young, W
Keywords: Anxiety;Fear of falling;Internal focus;Attention;Attentional control;Gaze Behaviour
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: American Psychological Association -
Citation: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Abstract: Research demonstrates the multifaceted influence of fall-related anxiety on postural control. However, very little work has sought to identify psychological mechanisms through which anxiety influences movement planning and jeopardises balance safety. Experiment 1 demonstrates evidence of a causal link between postural threat and altered visual search during adaptive gait, indicative of both increased on-line control of stepping movements (at the expense planning future stepping actions), and a gaze bias towards threats to balance. Participants also reported allocating greater attention towards both conscious movement processing and external threatening stimuli. Experiment 2 sought to further evaluate possible attentional factors underpinning changes observed in Experiment 1. Here, participants completed the same task under conditions of (i) internal focus of attention, and (ii) reduced resources available for movement planning. Similar to when anxious, participants displayed increased on-line control of stepping—at the expense of feedforward planning—when focusing attention ‘internally’. However, no such changes were observed during conditions of reduced resources. We consequently interpret altered patterns of visual search observed during anxious gait to represent both a gaze bias towards threats to balance (i.e., increased reliance on the stimulus-driven attentional system) and the subsequent conscious processing of movement to prevent a fall.
ISSN: 0096-1523
Appears in Collections:Dept of Clinical Sciences Research Papers

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