Visuospatial Attention During Locomotion
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Locomotion requires visuospatial attention. However, the role and cortical control of visuospatial attention during locomotion remain unclear. Four experiments were conducted in this study to examine the role and cortical control of visuospatial attention during locomotion in healthy young adults. In the first experiment, we employed a visuospatial attention task at different phases of obstacle crossing during gait. The results suggested that toe-obstacle clearance was significantly reduced for the trailing limb when distraction interfered with visuospatial attention during the approaching phase of obstacle crossing. In the second experiment, subjects performed a visual Stroop task while approaching and crossing an obstacle during gait. The results for the second experiment indicated toe-obstacle clearance was significantly increased for the leading and trailing limbs. Taken together, it was found that different visual attention tasks lead to distinct modifications on obstacle crossing behaviors. In the third and fourth experiments, anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was applied over the right posterior parietal cortex (PPC) to examine the aftereffects on attention function and locomotor behavior. The results suggested that the orienting attention was significantly improved after anodal tDCS. In addition, the aftereffects of anodal tDCS potentially enhanced cognitive and motor performance while interacting with a challenging obstacle-crossing task in young healthy adults, suggesting that the right PPC contributes to attending visuospatial information during locomotion. This study demonstrated that visuospatial attention is critical for planning during locomotion and the right PPC contributes to this interplay of the neural processing of visuospatial attention during locomotion. This dissertation includes previously published and unpublished co-authored material.