Perceptual influences on mobility and balance

To plan feasible movements, we require an accurate awareness of what is "doable," depending on our own physical abilities and the environment. Gibson (1977) described this process as direct perception of “affordances.” But what happens to perceived affordances when there is a change in physical or cognitive abilities secondary to injury, stroke, or aging? Does accurate perception of physical abilities influence risk taking in daily life? In this line of research, which draws upon tools of both biomechanics and experimental psychology, we are developing novel methods to quantify “capacity awareness” and “capacity utilization,” and test how these variables influence mobility and falls in older adults.