Age-related changes in postural control to the demands of a precision task
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Optimal sensorimotor integration is needed to maintain the precision of a visuomotor postural task. Furthermore, cognitive resources have been suggested to be involved in maintaining balance, especially in older adults. This study investigated how older and younger adults differed in employing sensorimotor strategies in a dual-task situation. Older (age 65-84 years) and younger adults (age 19-30 years) performed a visually-based, postural tracking task in different body orientations (from 0° to 45°), which necessitated slightly different task goals. On some trials, participants performed a concurrent silent arithmetic task with the visuomotor tracking task. The results demonstrated that sensorimotor control declined with age. Older adults showed greater medial-lateral center of pressure variability compared to younger adults in the precision task. Younger adults displayed a trend to decrease anterior-posterior variability, but older adults exhibited an opposite trend when the body orientation changed from 0° to 45°. The addition of a dual-task situation decreased overall postural variability in both age groups. Age-related changes in postural control may degrade the flexible coordination of the sensory feedback and motor execution. This study suggested that medial-lateral stability may be more sensitive to this age-related decline and may be closely associated with postural instability and falls.
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