Effects of optic flow on the kinematics of human gait: A comparison of young and older adults

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Abstract

This experiment studied the effect of imposed optic flow on human locomotion. Six young and 6 older adults were exposed to various patterns of optic flow while walking in a moving hallway. Results showed few cases of impaired postural control (staggers, parachute reactions). No falls were recorded. Kinematic patterns of gait were altered when vision was absent or inconsistent optic flow was presented: Ninety two percent of the subjects' mean step velocity differed from their step velocities under normal vision. Compared with imposed central flow, peripheral optic flow was not dominant in inducing kinematic changes. Characteristic gait profiles were obtained, depending on flow direction. Global backward flow tended to slow down step velocity, whereas subjects' step velocity increased during conditions of forward flow. The results suggest that subjects attempted to match their own walking speed to the velocity of the moving visual scenes. It is concluded that in an uncluttered environment, imposed optic flow has a modulating rather than a destabilizing effect on human locomotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1994

Keywords

  • Elderly
  • Gait control
  • Gait kinematics
  • Human gait
  • Optic flow

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