How Prior Expectations Influence Older Adults’ Perception and Action During Object Interaction

in Multisensory Research
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The apparent size of an object can influence how we interact with and perceive the weight of objects in our environment. Little is known, however, about how this cue affects behaviour across the lifespan. Here, in the context of the size–weight illusion, we examined how visual size cues influenced the predictive application of fingertip forces and perceptions of heaviness in a group of older participants. We found that our older sample experienced a robust size–weight illusion, which did not differ from that experienced by younger participants. Older and young participants also experienced a real weight difference to a similar degree. By contrast, compared to younger participants our older group showed no evidence that size cues influenced the way they initially gripped and lifted the objects. These results highlight a unique dissociation between how perception and action diverge across the lifespan, and suggest that deficits in the ability to use prediction to guide actions might underpin some of the manual interaction difficulties experienced by the older adults.

How Prior Expectations Influence Older Adults’ Perception and Action During Object Interaction

in Multisensory Research



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    The handle containing the Nano17 force transducer which participants used to lift the experimental objects.

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    (A) The perceptual ratings of heaviness given to all objects, averaged across all trials and (B) the comparison of the magnitudes of the experience real weight differences (mean heavy − mean light) and the illusory weight differences (mean small − mean large). Error bars show standard error of the means.

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    The first trial forces and force rates for (A) the Young group and (B) the Old group. Grip forces and grip force rates (left figures) are shifted to be centred around peak grip force rate, whereas load forces and load force rates (right figures) are shifted to be centred around the peak load force rate. Bold lines show the average forces and force rates over time for each condition, with thin lines representing individuals’ traces. Note this figure is for descriptive purposes, and statistics were performed on individual peak force rate values.

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    The peak grip force rate used by each age group for the first lift of the large heavy cylinder and small heavy cylinder. These lifts occurred immediately after the five practice lifts of the medium-sized heavy cylinder.

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    The peak load force rate used by each age group for the first lift of the large heavy cylinder and small heavy cylinder. These lifts occurred immediately after the five practice lifts of the medium-sized heavy cylinder.

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