Internal focus of attention on a movement or focusing on an external target are both strategies that can affect motor performance. The authors explored whether manipulating subjects' focus of attention while walking would alter gait variability, a measure reflecting consistency of gait and associated with the risk of falling in older adults. Twenty community-living older adults participated in the study and were tested while focusing their attention on (a) gait consistency (internal focus) or (b) metronome beats (external focus). In both conditions gait variability increased (i.e., worsened p <.05) or did not change. No benefit was found in instructing subjects to focus on gait consistency or metronome beats. Such instructions may actually have distracted and interfered with the execution of gait.
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- focus of attention
- gait variability
- older adults
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience