Research has shown that the Nintendo Wii Balance Board (WBB) can reliably detect the quantitative kinematics of the center of pressure in stance. Previous studies used relatively coarse manipulations (1- vs. 2-leg stance, and eyes open vs. closed). We sought to determine whether the WBB could reliably detect postural changes associated with subtle variations in visual tasks. Healthy elderly adults stood on a WBB while performing one of two visual tasks. In the Inspection task, they maintained their gaze within the boundaries of a featureless target. In the Search task, they counted the occurrence of designated target letters within a block of text. Consistent with previous studies using traditional force plates, the positional variability of the center of pressure was reduced during performance of the Search task, relative to movement during performance of the Inspection task. Using detrended fluctuation analysis, a measure of movement dynamics, we found that COP trajectories were more predictable during performance of the Search task than during performance of the Inspection task. The results indicate that the WBB is sensitive to subtle variations in both the magnitude and dynamics of body sway that are related to variations in visual tasks engaged in during stance. The WBB is an inexpensive, reliable technology that can be used to evaluate subtle characteristics of body sway in large or widely dispersed samples.
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- Visual performance