Both age and physical activity level impact on eye-hand coordination
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Aging impacts on our ability to perform goal-directed aiming movements. Older adults generally make slower and shorter initial impulses towards the end target, and therefore require more time for corrections in the final movement stage. Recent studies however suggest that a physically active lifestyle may attenuate these age-related changes. Also, it remains unclear whether eye-movement control exhibits a similar pattern of adaptation in older adults. Therefore, the first aim of this study was to describe how age and physical activity level impact eye-hand coordination during discrete manual aiming. Young and older participants were divided into physically active and sedentary subgroups, and performed discrete aiming movements while hand and eye movements were recorded. Secondly, to determine whether older adults depend more on vision during aiming, the task was repeated without visual feedback. The results revealed that the typical age-related hand movement adaptations were not only observed in older, but also in sedentary young participants. Older and sedentary young participants also spent more hand movement time after the eyes fixated the end target. This finding does not necessarily reflect an augmented reliance on vision, as all groups showed similar aiming errors when visual feedback was removed. In conclusion, both age and physical activity level clearly impacted eye-hand coordination during discrete manual aiming. This adapted coordination pattern seems to be caused by other factors than an increased reliance on vision.
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