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Table of Contents
Vol. 51, No. 2, 2005
Issue release date: March – April
Section title: Experimental Section
Gerontology 2005;51:94–107
(DOI:10.1159/000082194)

Influence of Elderly Executive Cognitive Function on Attention in the Lower Visual Field during Step Initiation

Di Fabio R.P. · Zampieri C. · Henke J. · Olson K. · Rickheim D. · Russell M.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., USA

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Experimental Section

Received: February 14, 2004
Accepted: June 28, 2004
Published online: February 11, 2005
Issue release date: March – April

Number of Print Pages: 14
Number of Figures: 7
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0304-324X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER

Abstract

Background: There is a well-established relationship between poor executive cognitive abilities and elderly fall risk, but the precise mechanism underlying this relationship is unknown. Older persons frequently fall or trip on objects below eye level, and it was hypothesized that the pathological mechanism linking low executive function and fall risk is a selective impairment in the resolution of visual attention in the lower visual fields. Objective: To determine ifnormally sighted older persons living in the community with deficits in executive cognitive abilities have a reduced resolution of visual attention in the lower visual fields compared to elderly and younger subjects with high executive abilities. Methods: Eye and head angulations were monitored as subjects fixated on a point rear-projected at eye level at the end of a 3- meter walkway. Visual stimuli were briefly presented (<300 ms) in the peripheral visual field (with and without distractors) to directly cue the selection of the right or left foot to lead a step over a foam obstacle resting at the subject’s feet. No saccades were allowed until the stimulus was extinguished, at which time a down-saccade-step sequence moved the foot over the obstacle. The resolution of visual attention (tested with gratings) and the influence of target eccentricity in the upper and lower visual fields were evaluated. The primary outcome measures were step error and obstacle contact rate, saccade occurrence after extinguished stimulus and the log of cue-saccade latency (limb-independent reaction time). Results: All groups experienced greater stepping errors than expected by chance when stimuli were presented in the lower versus upper visual field and with increasing eccentricity. However, the obstacle contact rate was greater, cue-saccade latency was prolonged, and fewer down-saccades were generated in the elderly group with poor executive abilities compared to those with high executive function and younger subjects. Conclusions: Loss of visual attention in the lower visual fields was not unique to elderly subjects with poor executive function. However, slowed processing time and reduction in the frequency of down-saccades associated with a low level of executive function potentially account for the mechanism linking executive abilities and fall risk.

© 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Experimental Section

Received: February 14, 2004
Accepted: June 28, 2004
Published online: February 11, 2005
Issue release date: March – April

Number of Print Pages: 14
Number of Figures: 7
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0304-324X (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0003 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/GER


Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.