Perceptual inhibition is associated with sensory integration in standing postural control among older adults

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009 Sep;64(5):569-76. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbp060. Epub 2009 Jul 17.


In older adults, maintaining balance and processing information typically interfere with each other, suggesting that executive functions may be engaged for both. We investigated associations between measures of inhibitory processes and standing postural control in healthy young and older adults. Perceptual and motor inhibition was measured using a protocol adapted from Nassauer and Halperin (2003, Dissociation of perceptual and motor inhibition processes through the use of novel computerized conflict tasks. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 9, 25-30). These measures were then correlated to postural sway during standing conditions that required resolving various levels of sensory conflict, for example, world-fixed versus sway-referenced floor and visual scene. In the older adults, perceptual inhibition was positively correlated with sway amplitude on a sway-referenced floor and with a fixed visual scene (r = .68, p < .001). Motor inhibition was not correlated with sway on either group. Perceptual inhibition may be a component of the sensory integration process important for maintaining balance in older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Proprioception
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult