Researchers: Jessica Pepper, Dr Helen Nuttall
Age-related declines in vision are predicted to affect 2 billion people worldwide, and more than 360 million people worldwide are affected by disabling age-related hearing loss. In addition to this, one third of people over 65 in the UK experience falls each year, costing the NHS £4.4 billion. The aim of my PhD is to investigate whether these sensory and motor consequences of ageing are linked. I will investigate the effects that age-related deficits in hearing and vision have on multisensory integration (MSI), its relation to balance ability, and whether this could explain the increased incidence of falls amongst older adults. Using electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), I will measure and manipulate the neural activity that occurs in certain brain areas during MSI, alongside assessing the balancing abilities in younger and older adults. A better understanding of the perceptual challenges caused by age-related sensory changes will enable health care providers to address the support needs of elderly people more efficiently, reducing the pressure on the NHS.