Online adjustments in goal-directed movements during ageing




Online adjustments in goal-directed movements during ageing

Y. Zhang

prof.dr. J.B.J. Smeets, prof.dr. S. Verschueren, dr. E.M. Brenner, prof.dr. J. Duysens

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences

Movement Sciences

PhD conferral

Online control processes in goal-directed reaching and walking tasks for elderly people are similar in real situations, in terms of how fast people can adjust their movements. The pathways used in online control may depend on the complexity of the sensory feedback and the level to process information. Moreover, growing older as a person affects online adjustments during goal-directed movements, mainly due to deteriorated muscle functions. This makes future research promising in improving the ability to make online adjustments for the older adults, according to the PhD research by Yajie Zhang

When making a reaching movement – like getting a glass of water – we adjust our movements continuously based on a comparison of the real movement with the estimated one. The type of adjustments that under study is ‘online’, so if any change occurs, the corresponding movement (e.g. trajectory) can change immediately as well. 

Zhang: “For example, if we want to take the glass off a tray held by a waiter, we not only have to adjust our posture to keep balance while reaching for it, but we might also have to adjust the whole movement as the tray moves.” Zhang investigated online movement adjustments by perturbing the sensory information, for example a visual target displaces its location. How fast someone could adjust a goal-directed movement was investigated in reaching and walking tasks. Additionally, the effect of ageing on this fast process was also investigated.

More information about the thesis