A simple target interception task as test for activities of daily life performance in older adults

Alix L. de Dieuleveult*, Sander I.B. Perry, Petra C. Siemonsma, Anne-Marie Brouwer, Jan B.F. van Erp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Previous research showed that a simple target interception task reveals differences between younger adults (YA) and older adults (OA) on a large screen under laboratory conditions. Participants intercept downward moving objects while a horizontally moving background creates an illusion of the object moving in the opposite direction of the background. OA are more influenced by this illusory motion than YA. OA seem to be less able to ignore irrelevant sensory information than YA. Since sensory integration relates to the ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL), this interception task can potentially signal ADL issues. Here we investigated whether the results of the target interception task could be replicated using a more portable setup, i.e., a tablet instead of a large touch screen. For YA from the same, homogeneous population, the main effects were replicated although the task was more difficult in the tablet set-up. After establishing the tablet’s validity, we analyzed the response patterns of OA that were less fit than the OA in previous research. We identified three different illusion patterns: a (large) illusion effect (indicating over integration), a reverse illusion effect, and no illusion effect. These different patterns are much more nuanced than previously reported for fit OA who only show over integration. We propose that the patterns are caused by differences in the samples of OA (OA in the current sample were older and had lower ADL scores), possibly modulated by increased task difficulty in the tablet setup. We discuss the effects of illusory background motion as a function of ADL scores using a transitional model. The first pattern commences when sensory integration capability starts to decrease, leading to a pattern of over-integration (illusion effect). The second pattern commences when compensatory mechanisms are not sufficient to counteract the effect of the background motion, leading to direction errors in the same direction as the background motion (reverse illusion). The third pattern commences when the task requirements are too high, leading OA to implement a probabilistic strategy by tapping toward the center of the screen.

Original languageEnglish
Article number524
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberMAY
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019


  • Activities of daily living
  • Aging
  • Elderly
  • Interception task
  • Sensory integration


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