Mobility requires efficient interaction of musculoskeletal and sensory systems (especially visual, somatosensory, and vestibular) to control everyday movements, and these systems are known to be compromised in aging and linked to cognitive status. With this in mind, we have developed an assessment that utilizes a simple reaction time test with a motor functioning component to determine
elderly fall risks.
Participants complete a simple reaction time (RT) test employing three bilaterally presented conditions (visual, somatosensory, and visual-somatosensory) and one control (i.e., ‘catch’) condition where no stimulation is presented and no response is expected.
Our research interests include: healthy aging, sensory functioning [multisensory integration], motor performance [gait; balance & motor control]; cognitive performance [especially attention & executive functioning]; and age-related diseases [including but not limited to mild Parkinsonian symptoms; mild cognitive impairment Alzheimer’s disease & diabetes].
The ability to successfully integrate information across sensory systems is a vital aspect of functioning in the real world. To date, only a few studies have investigated the clinical value of multisensory integration. Our previous research has linked the magnitude of visual-somatosensory integration (measured behaviorally using simple reaction time tests) to important cognitive (attention) and motor (balance, gait, and falls) outcomes in healthy older adults. Moreover, our most recent work highlights the adverse effect of diabetes on multisensory and motor functions in aging.