Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Kinesiology (MKin)


Kinesiology and Physical Education

Program Name/Specialization

Behavioural Neuroscience


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Cinelli, PhD

Advisor Role

Thesis supervisor


Goal-direct locomotion is made possible through the integration of sensory input from the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory system. However, changes in collision avoidance behaviours and action capabilities (i.e., affordances) may occur when a sensory conflict is introduced (i.e., via incongruent input from a sensory system). Further, changes to the person (such as physical fatigue) may have negative implications on the cognitive abilities of an individual following physically fatiguing exercise. This in turn could affect an individual’s ability to avoid collisions with objects or other individuals in their environment. Thus, the objective of this thesis was to explore how physical fatigue affects decision-making during a closing-gap aperture crossing task using joystick-controlled locomotion. The purpose of Study 1 was to determine if joystick-controlled locomotion is a viable tool to study young adult aperture crossing behaviours in virtual reality (VR). Using this tool would remove any potential physical effects from the task, which then allowed for the study of how physical fatigue specifically affects cognition (i.e., decision-making). Study 1 determined that passability decisions (i.e., 50% Switch Point) and response time (i.e., TTC) were significantly larger during the joystick-controlled locomotion interface compared to real-walking, yet still within an acceptable range to consider the task accurately completed. Thus, young adults are able to accurately complete the aperture crossing task whether physically moving or using a joystick to control locomotion. Study 1 also determined a critical point for crossing closing gaps in VR (joystick-controlled locomotion: 1.34x shoulder width; real-walking: 1.8x shoulder width), which informed the threshold by which accurate performance was determined. The purpose of Study 2 was to determine if physical fatigue affects cognition in recreationally active young adults, and whether those effects are reflected in behaviours when passing through a closing-gap aperture. Physically fatigued individuals exhibited no deleterious changes in passability decisions (i.e., 50% Switch Point), but increased response time (i.e., TTC) when following through on decisions. In conclusion, young adults behave similarly in VR regardless of locomotion interface, and physical fatigue induced by a fatiguing cycling protocol alters cognitive processing, which has implications for behaviour in collision avoidance situations.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Sunday, September 04, 2022