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Stacy M. Lopresti-Goodman, Michael J. Richardson, Reuben M. Baron, Claudia Carello and Kerry L. Marsh

The actualization of a simple affordance task—grasping and moving wooden planks of different sizes using either one or two hands—was assessed in the context of taskrelevant (plank sequence, plank presentation speed) and task-irrelevant (cognitive load) manipulations. In Experiment 1, fast (3 s/plank) and self-paced (≈5 s/plank) presentation speeds revealed hysteresis; the transition point for ascending series was greater than the transition point for descending series. Hysteresis was eliminated in the slowest presentation speed (10 s/plank). In Experiment 2, hysteresis was exaggerated by a cognitive load (counting backward by seven) for both fast and slow presentation speeds. These results suggest that behavioral responses to the attractor dynamics of perceived affordances are processes that require minimal cognitive resources.

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Vanda Correia, Duarte Araújo, Alan Cummins and Cathy M. Craig

This study used a virtual, simulated 3 vs. 3 rugby task to investigate whether gaps opening in particular running channels promote different actions by the ball carrier player and whether an effect of rugby expertise is verified. We manipulated emergent gaps in three different locations: Gap 1 in the participant’s own running channel, Gap 2 in the first receiver’s running channel, and Gap 3 in the second receiver’s running channel. Recreational, intermediate, professional, and nonrugby players performed the task. They could (i) run with the ball, (ii) make a short pass, or (iii) make a long pass. All actions were digitally recorded. Results revealed that the emergence of gaps in the defensive line with respect to the participant’s own position significantly influenced action selection. Namely, “run” was most often the action performed in Gap 1, “short pass” in Gap 2, and “long pass” in Gap 3 trials. Furthermore, a strong positive relationship between expertise and task achievement was found.

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Martin E. Block

Recent evidence utilizing an ecological approach to perception (Gibson, 1979; Warren, 1984) suggests that children acquire the ability to distinguish what movement an environment “affords” soon after they acquire motor skills (e.g., Gibson et al., 1987; Palmer, 1989; Ulrich, Thelen, & Niles, 1991). However, it is still unclear whether or not children with cognitive disabilities can accurately perceive affordances (see Burton, 1987, 1990). The purpose of this study was to determine if boys with mild mental retardation could perceive affordances for the skill of jumping distances (standing long jump). Boys with mild mental retardation were asked to judge whether or not various distances could be jumped across by use of a two-footed takeoff and landing. Perceptual judgment was then compared to actual maximum jumping distance. Results indicate that boys with mental retardation were able to accurately perceive the affordance for jumping distance. Results were explained via an ecological perspective.

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Gert-Jan Pepping and François-Xavier Li

Studies on affordance perception commonly report systematic errors; a finding that is at odds with the observation that everyday motor behavior is accurate. The present study investigated whether the means by which perceptual performance is measured could explain the reported errors. Perception of overhead reachability and reaction time were measured using a verbal and an actual reaching response in a standing reach, and a reach-and-jump. Results show that participants accurately perceived their action boundaries for both tasks and in both response conditions. A simple reach, however, took less time to initiate (1,094 ms) than a reach-and jump (1,214 ms). Interestingly, the verbal response took considerably more time to initiate (1,424 ms) than the actual reach (1,154 ms). These results suggest that making verbal judgments about affordances is a different task than actually acting on them. It is therefore concluded that the use of conscious judgments to measure perceptual performance should be considered with care.

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Marco J. Konings and Florentina J. Hettinga

importance of the interaction between the exerciser and environmental cues has been emphasized, in particular in the context of decision making and pacing in head-to-head competition. 2 , 4 Perceptual affordances provided by the environment can invite athletes to respond, thereby evoking in-race adaptations

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Sara M. Scharoun, Pamela J. Bryden, Michael E. Cinelli, David A. Gonzalez and Eric A. Roy

This study investigated whether 5- to 11-year-old children perceive affordances in the same way as adults (M age = 22.93, SD = 2.16) when presented with a task and four tools (nail in a block of wood and a hammer, rock, wrench, and comb; bucket of sand and a shovel, wooden block, rake, and tweezers; and a screw in a block of wood and a screwdriver, knife, dime, and crayon). Participants were asked to select the best tool and act on an object until all four assigned tools had been selected. No explicit instructions were provided because we were interested in how task perception would influence tool selection and action. Results support the notion that the capacity to perceive affordances increases with age. Furthermore, differences in the way in which 5-year-olds acted on the screw in a block of wood demonstrated that the ability to detect some affordances takes longer to refine. Findings help to further the understanding of the development of perception-action coupling.

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Steven Loy

evolution), and we have developed our program to serve 4 different fitness levels, including a falls prevention group, and deliver a free diabetes program modified from the National Diabetes Prevention Program. The 3 WINS Fitness program is sustainable, affordable, replicable, and scalable. The problem of

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Catherine E. Dorwart

Though physical inactivity can lead to increased health problems in older adults, few places actually encourage this population to be active by implementing choices that allow the built and natural environment to be accessed by foot or bicycle. In addition, little research has examined older adults’ perceptions of design and the relationship between greenways and improving public health, a topic that is receiving popular attention. The objective of this mixed-methods study was therefore to evaluate elements in a greenway’s design that the aging population found important and which afforded physical activity. Using a combination of survey questions, photo elicitation, and interviews, data were collected from a sample of older adults aged 65 and over that used a greenway trail. Results of this study indicated that older adults may prefer certain elements on a trail, namely those elements that afforded their choice of activity. Although there will always be limitations to understanding behavioral responses to the built environment, this should not disqualify the benefits of greenways on older adults’ physical activity.

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Eliane Mauerberg-deCastro

This article uses an anchor metaphor to explain the dynamic interplay between the human body's active uses of nonrigid tools to mediate information about its adjacent environment to enhance postural control. The author used an “anchor” system (e.g., ropes attached to varying weights resting on the floor) to test blindfolded adults who performed a restricted-balance task (30 s one-foot standing). Participants were tested while holding the anchors under a variety of weight conditions (125 g, 250 g, 500 g, and 1 kg) and again during a baseline condition (no anchors). When compared with the baseline condition, there was a significant reduction in the amount of body sway across the anchor conditions. The author found that mechanical support provided by the anchor system was secondary to its haptic exploratory function and that an individual can use the anchoring strategy with a dual purpose: for resting and for reorientation after intrinsic disruptions.

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Diane K. King, Peg Allen, Dina L. Jones, David X. Marquez, David R. Brown, Dori Rosenberg, Sarah Janicek, Laila Allen and Basia Belza

Background:

Midlife and older adults use shopping malls for walking, but little research has examined mall characteristics that contribute to their walkability.

Methods:

We used modified versions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Healthy Aging Research Network (HAN) Environmental Audit and the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) tool to systematically observe 443 walkers in 10 shopping malls. We also observed 87 walkers in 6 community-based nonmall/nongym venues where older adults routinely walked for physical activity.

Results:

All venues had public transit stops and accessible parking. All malls and 67% of nonmalls had wayfinding aids, and most venues (81%) had an established circuitous walking route and clean, well-maintained public restrooms (94%). All venues had level floor surfaces, and one-half had benches along the walking route. Venues varied in hours of access, programming, tripping hazards, traffic control near entrances, and lighting.

Conclusions:

Despite diversity in location, size, and purpose, the mall and nonmall venues audited shared numerous environmental features known to promote walking in older adults and few barriers to walking. Future research should consider programmatic features and outreach strategies to expand the use of malls and other suitable public spaces for walking.