Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kevin G Keenan

Committee Members

Wendy E Huddleston, Kristian M O'Connor, Jinsung Wang, Marie K Hoeger Bement


Aging, Attention, Eye movements, Hand function, Motor control, Older adults


Visual information is critical for many goal-directed movements and changes in visual information influence hand motor performance in older adults. Knowledge of eye movements during hand motor tasks would provide greater insight into impaired hand function in older adults. This dissertation examined age-related changes in eye movements and the association with hand motor impairments in older adults. Given that attention plays a role in motor performance and declines with age, the relationship between attentional processes and hand motor control was also assessed. A total of 23 young (age 20 – 38) and 28 older (age 65 – 90) adults were recruited. Eye movements were recorded during common hand tasks including pegboard tests of manual dexterity, Archimedes spiral tracing, and a pinch force-matching task. Measures of the subsystems of attention and a dual task were performed. Results provide evidence for decreased ability to control gaze location and altered visual strategies during hand tasks in older adults, and hand motor performance decrements may be associated with these age-related changes in eye movements. Findings also illustrate a relationship between attentional processes and pegboard performance impairments in older adults. This dissertation contributes novel findings regarding age-associated impairments in hand motor control as they relate to eye movements, offering more insight into decreased function and loss of independence in older adults.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons