Falls on stairs are a major hazard for older adults. Visual decline in normal aging can affect step climbing ability, altering gait and reducing toe clearance. Here we show that a loss of fine-grained visual information associated with age can affect the perception of surface undulations in patterned surfaces. We go on to show that such cues affect the limb trajectories of young adults, but due to their lack of sensitivity, not that of older adults. Interestingly neither the perceived height of a step nor conscious awareness are altered by our visual manipulation but stepping behaviour is: suggesting that the influence of shape perception on stepping behaviour is via the unconscious, action-centred, dorsal visual pathway.
- step climbing