Maintaining Balance in Conditions of Sensory Conflict.

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Rita Patterson


The purpose of this practicum project was to investigate the effect of aging during a dual-task paradigm involving a postural and cognitive task. The aim was to examine the coordination between postural control involving upper extremity movements and cognitive decision making in conditions corresponding to functional realities. A dynamic virtual environment was used to measure postural sway and performance. Older adults had increased response times and accuracy compared to younger adults. Sway increased for both age groups, with a larger effect on the older subjects, as the cognitive task complexity increased. These results support observations that postural balance is influenced by the concurrent performance of a cognitive task and that performance of a cognitive task appears to have a more deleterious effect on postural control in older adults compared to young.

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