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Title: Examining links between anxiety, attentional focus, and altered control of locomotion
Authors: Ellmers, Toby Jack
Advisors: Young, W
Karageorghis, CI
Keywords: Visual search;Fear of falling;Older adults;Dual-task;Internal focus
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: The present programme of research sought to explore how fall-related anxiety, and resulting changes in attention, influence the control of adaptive locomotion. Six interrelated studies were conducted to achieve this aim. Studies 1–3 were conducted with young adults. In Study 1, we demonstrated that the maintenance of effective visuomotor control during adaptive gait requires cognitive resources. The results of Study 2 extended these findings and indicated that fall-related anxiety – through the likely mediator of heightened conscious movement processing – reduces the cognitive resources available for processing concurrent tasks during adaptive locomotion. Study 3 (Experiment 1) described that young adults anxious about falling display visual search patterns indicative of reduced feedforward planning. Study 3 (Experiment 2) indicated that these anxiety-related changes in visual search are a likely consequence of altered prioritisation resulting from the conscious processing of discrete stepping movements; rather than simply a reduction in the cognitive resources available for maintaining effective visual search. Studies 4–6 were conducted with older adults. Study 4 described that anxious older adults at a high risk of falling will direct attention towards worries/ruminations related to falling – in addition to consciously processing stepping movements. Study 5 provided evidence of a link between fall-related anxiety and the maladaptive visual search behaviours reported previously in high-risk older adults. Finally, Study 6 indicated that the anxiety-related visual search behaviours reported in Study 5 are likely underpinned by heightened attention directed towards consciously processing stepping movements. The present programme of research provides evidence of a link between fall-related anxiety, and associated changes in attention, and altered visuomotor control of adaptive locomotion. The findings presented herein support the importance of considering attentional mechanisms when inferring how fall-related may influence an individual’s risk of falling.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Sport
Dept of Life Sciences Theses

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