Hum Mov Sci. 2011 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]
An investigation of stride interval stationarity while listening to music or viewing television.
Sejdić E, Jeffery R, Vanden Kroonenberg A, Chau T.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In recent years, there has been considerable interest in the effects of auditory and visual distractions on pedestrian ambulation. A fundamental temporal characteristic of ambulation is the temporal fluctuation of the stride interval. In this paper, we investigate the stationarity of stride interval time series when people are exposed to different forms of auditory and visual distractions. An increase in nonstationary behavior may be suggestive of divided attention and more frequent central modulation of locomotion, both of which may have ramifications on pedestrian vigilance and responsiveness to environmental perturbations. One group of fifteen able-bodied (6 females) young adult participants completed a music protocol (overground walking with and without music). A second group of fifteen (7 females) did a television protocol (treadmill walking while watching TV with and without sound). Three walking trials, each 15min in duration, were performed at each participant's comfortable walking speed, with force sensitive resistors under the heel of each foot. Using the reverse arrangements test, the vast majority of time series were nonstationary, with a time-varying mean as the principal source of nonstationarity. Furthermore, the television trial with sound had the greatest number of nonstationarities followed by overground walking while listening to music. We discuss the possibility that these conditions measurably affect gait dynamics through a subconscious synchronization to external rhythms or a cyclic distraction followed by a period of increased conscious correction of gait timing. Our findings suggest that the regulation of stride timing is particularly susceptible to constant, time-evolving auditory stimuli, but that normal pacing can be restored quickly upon stimulus withdrawal. These kinds of sensory distractions should thus be carefully considered in studies of pedestrian ambulation.