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Sport, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Dr Will Young

Dr Will Young

Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Psychology

 Richards Building RB105B


Richard's Building, University of Exeter, St Luke's Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK


I gained my BSc (2004) and PhD (2009) qualifications from The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at The University of Birmingham. I then worked as a post-doctoral researcher in fields of Psychology (Queen’s University Belfast), Neurology/Neurorehabilitation (Stanford University), and Sports Psychology (Brunel University London) before taking a Lectureship in Rehabilitation Psychology in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Brunel University London (2015). In 2019 I joined the School of Sport and Health Sciences at The University of Exeter as a Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Psychology. 

My research relates to the topic of falls prediction and prevention, both in older adults and people with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's. I am especilly interested in examining how anxiety (about falling) can influence the control of balance/walking. I conduct this research both in the laboratory (using virtual reality, eye tracking and biomechanical analyses) and in the community (working with Physiotherapists and clinicans specialising in neurological rehabilitation) with the goal of developing practical and low-cost strategies to help prevent falls and improve mobility.  


Doctor of Philosophy

Chartered Psychologist (British Psychological Society)


2019 - current:     Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Psychology, University of Exeter

2015 – 2018:       Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation Psychology, Division of Physiotherapy, Brunel University.  

2013 – 2015:       Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Life Sciences, Brunel University London.

2008 – 2013:       Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast (periodically based at the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University)

2005 – 2009:       PhD. School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham.

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Research interests

- Ageing and falls (preiction & prevention)

- Influence of anxiety (fear of falling) on balance and gait

- Developing strategies for improving mobility in people with Parkinson's (especially related to freezing of gait)

- Developing low-cost fall-prevention therapies for use in the health service

Research projects

Evaluating the influence of anxiety on planning and executing stepping action during dynamic gait in young and older adults. A series of projects funded by the British Academy and a Brunel BRIEF award

Evaluating the effectiveness of community-based exercise classes in older adults. Project funded by Sport England. 

Using analogies to overcome freezing of gait in Parkionson's. Project funded by Parkinson's UK

Evaluating the relationship between anxiety and freezing of gait in people with Parkinson's

Examining the potential role of anxiety in mediating sensory reweighting during balance tasks in young adults, older adults and people with Parkinson's

Research networks

I maintain collaborations with several national and international research groups including:-

2017 – present     Prof. Paul Holmes (Manchester Metropolitan University). Project theme: psychological determinants of gait instability in older adults.

2015 – present     Dr Meriel Norris (Brunel University London). Project theme: Evaluating the relationship between anxiety and freezing of gait in people with Parkinson's

2014 – present     Dr. Thomson Wong (Hong Kong University, HK) & Prof. Rich Masters (University of Waikato, NZ). Project theme: Evaluating psychological determinants of postural instability in older adults.

2017 – present     Prof A. Mark Williams (University of Utah, USA). Project theme: Using virtual adaptive gait tasks to determine perceptual and cognitive factors that influence fall-risk in older adults.

2014 – present     Dr Natela Shanidze (Smith-Kettlewell Eye Institute, CA-USA). Project theme: Eveluating how anxiety influences reliance on vision in people with age-related macular degeneration.

2012 – present     Dr. Helen Bronte-Stewart (Stanford University, CA-USA). Project theme: determining neurological underpinnings of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease.  

Research grants

  • 2020 Parkinson's UK
    Project grant in collaboration with Brunel University London and VU Leuven
  • 2019 Sport England
    (PI) Sport England award via by social enterprise Oomph! Wellness. Project title: Evaluating community exercise classes in older adults
  • 2018 Brunel University
    (PI) Brunel BRIEF award. Project title: Developing the Falls-Specific Attentional Profile questionnaire.
  • 2017 Parkinson's UK
    (PI) Parkinson’s UK small grant award. Project title: Using analogies to overcome freezing of gait: a first step towards making the first step.
  • 2015 Motability 10th Anniversary Trust
    (Co-I) A research proposal for the Motability 10th Anniversary Trust. Project title: Scoping our future research Priorities
  • 2014 Royal Society
    (PI) Royal Society International Exchange Award. Funding bi-lateral partnership between researchers at Brunel University and University of Hong Kong. Project title: The influence of anxiety and increased age on visual control of posture and gait.
  • 2014 RIchard Benjamin Trust
    (PI) Project title: Designing serious games for enhancing physical function and social interactivity in older adults
  • 2014 British Academy/Leverhulme
    (PI) British Academy Small Research Grant. Project title: Examining visual search behaviour as a function of movement specific reinvestment in older adults during adaptive walking tasks
  • 2013 Royal Irish Academy
    (PI) Funding research visit to work in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. Project title: Using action-sounds to cue stepping actions in Parkinson’s disease patients with freezing of gait.

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Journal articles

Young W (In Press). Exposure Worry: the Psychological Impact of Perceived. Ionizing Radiation Exposure in British Nuclear Test Veterans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Abstract.
Wang A, Sieber J, Young W, Tsaneva-Atanasova K (In Press). Time series analysis and modelling of the freezing of gait phenomenon. SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems Abstract.
Lamb SE, Williams G, Young W (2024). The science of falls and how to prevent them. Nat Med, 30(1), 35-36. Author URL.
Raffegeau TE, Young WR, Fino PC, Williams AM (2023). A Perspective on Using Virtual Reality to Incorporate the Affective Context of Everyday Falls into Fall Prevention. JMIR Aging, 6
Siragy T, Russo Y, Young W, Lamb SE (2023). Comparison of over-ground and treadmill perturbations for simulation of real-world slips and trips: a systematic review. Gait Posture, 100, 201-209. Abstract.  Author URL.
Rose DC, Poliakoff E, Young WR, Phillips M (2023). Music Moves Me in More Ways Than One: an Online Survey Investigating the Everyday Use of Music among People with Parkinson's. Music and Science, 6 Abstract.
Raffegeau TE, Clark M, Fawver B, Engel BT, Young WR, Williams AM, Lohse KR, Fino PC (2023). The effect of mobility-related anxiety on walking across the lifespan: a virtual reality simulation study. Exp Brain Res, 241(7), 1757-1768. Abstract.  Author URL.
Ellmers TJ, Wilson MR, Kal EC, Young WR (2023). The perceived control model of falling: developing a unified framework to understand and assess maladaptive fear of falling. Age Ageing, 52(7). Abstract.  Author URL.
Poliakoff E, Bek J, Phillips M, Young WR, Rose DC (2023). Vividness and Use of Imagery Related to Music and Movement in People with Parkinson's: a Mixed-methods Survey Study. Music and Science, 6 Abstract.
Alenezi S, Morgan-Trimmer S, Hulbert S, Young W, Goodwin VA (2023). “It's a lot more complicated than it seems”: physiotherapists' experiences of using compensation strategies in people with Parkinson's. Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences, 4 Abstract.
Kal EC, Young WR, Ellmers TJ (2022). Balance capacity influences the effects of conscious movement processing on postural control in older adults. Human Movement Science, 82 Abstract.
Raffegeau TE, Fawver B, Clark M, Engel BT, Young WR, Williams AM, Lohse KR, Fino PC (2022). Corrigendum to “The feasibility of using virtual reality to induce mobility-related anxiety during turning” [Gait & Posture 77 (2020) 6–13, (Gait & Posture (2020) 77(6–13) (S0966636220300072), (10.1016/j.gaitpost.2020.01.006)). Gait and Posture, 95 Abstract.
Rose DC, Poliakoff E, Hadley R, Guérin SMR, Phillips M, Young WR (2022). Levelling the Playing Field: the Role of Workshops to Explore How People with Parkinson's Use Music for Mood and Movement Management as Part of a Patient and Public Involvement Strategy. Front Rehabil Sci, 3 Abstract.  Author URL.
Ellmers T, Wilson M, Norris M, Young W (2022). Protective or harmful? a qualitative exploration of older people’s perceptions of worries about falling. Age and Ageing
Ellmers TJ, Wilson MR, Kal EC, Young WR (2022). Standing up to threats: Translating the two-system model of fear to balance control in older adults. Experimental Gerontology, 158, 111647-111647.
Kal EC, Ellmers TJ, Fielding AE, Hardeman L, Coito J, Joyce L, Young WR (2022). Weighting for the Beat: Using a Dance Cue to Facilitate Turning in People with Parkinson's Disease and Freezing of Gait. J Parkinsons Dis, 12(4), 1353-1358. Abstract.  Author URL.
Collett G, Martin W, Young WR, Anderson RM (2022). “Is that a coincidence?”: Exploring health perceptions and the causal attributions of physical health conditions in British nuclear test veterans. SSM - Qualitative Research in Health, 2, 100127-100127.
Cocks AJ, Young WR, Ellmers TJ, Jackson RC, Williams AM (2021). Concern about falling is associated with segmental control when turning in older adults. Gait Posture, 88, 105-108. Abstract.  Author URL.
Mak TCT, Young WR, Wong TWL (2021). Conscious Control of Gait Increases with Task Difficulty and can be Mitigated by External Focus Instruction. Experimental Aging Research, 47(3), 288-301.
Young W, Ellmers TJ (2021). Translating Attentional Control Theory to Applied Psychological Eye Tracking Research.  Abstract.
Ellmers T, Cocks A, Kal E, Young W (2020). Conscious movement processing, fall-related anxiety, and the visuomotor control of locomotion in older adults. Journal of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Ellmers T, Kal E, Young W (2020). Consciously processing balance leads to distorted perceptions of instability in older adults. Journal of Neurology
Parakkal Unni M, Menon PP, Livi L, Wilson MR, Young WR, Bronte-Stewart HM, Tsaneva-Atanasova K (2020). Data-Driven Prediction of Freezing of Gait Events from Stepping Data. Frontiers in Medical Technology, 2, 581264-581264. Abstract.
Ellmers TJ, Cocks AJ, Young WR (2020). Evidence of a Link Between Fall-Related Anxiety and High-Risk Patterns of Visual Search in Older Adults During Adaptive Locomotion. J Gerontol a Biol Sci Med Sci, 75(5), 961-967. Abstract.  Author URL.
Kal EC, Young WR, Ellmers TJ (2020). Face masks, vision, and risk of falls. BMJ, 371 Author URL.
Ellmers T, Maslivec A, Young W (2020). Fear of falling alters anticipatory postural control during cued gait initiation. Neuroscience
Young W, Ellmers T, Kinrade N, Cossar J, Cocks A (2020). Re-evaluating the measurement and influence of conscious movement processing on gait performance in older adults: development of the Gait-Specific Attentional Profile. Gait and Posture
Ellmers T, Kal E, Richardson J, Young W (2020). Short-latency inhibition mitigates the relationship between conscious movement processing and overly cautious gait. Age and Ageing
Raffegeau T, Fawver B, Young W, Williams AM, Lohse K, Fino P (2020). The direction of postural threat alters balance control when standing at virtual elevation. Experimental Brain Research
Raffegeau TE, Fawver B, Clark M, Engel BT, Young WR, Williams AM, Lohse KR, Fino PC (2020). The feasibility of using virtual reality to induce mobility-related anxiety during turning. Gait & Posture, 77, 6-13.
Collett G, Craenen K, Young W, Gilhooly M, Anderson R (2020). The psychological consequences of (perceived) ionizing radiation exposure: a review on its role in radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction. International Journal of Radiation Biology
Mak TCT, Young WR, Wong TWL (2020). The role of reinvestment in conservative gait in older adults. Experimental Gerontology, 133, 110855-110855.
Hardeman LES, Kal EC, Young WR, van der Kamp J, Ellmers TJ (2020). Visuomotor control of walking in Parkinson’s disease: Exploring possible links between conscious movement processing and freezing of gait. Behavioural Brain Research, 395, 112837-112837.
Maslivec A, Fielding A, Wilson M, Norris M, Young W (2020). ‘Recoupling’ the attentional and motor control of preparatory postural adjustments to overcome Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 17
Ellmers TJ, Cocks AJ, Young WR (2019). Exploring attentional focus of older adult fallers during heightened postural threat. Psychological Research Abstract.
Chan DCL, Wong TWL, Zhu FF, Lam CC, Young W, Capio CM, Masters RSW (2019). Investigating changes in real-time conscious postural processing by older adults during different stance positions using electroencephalography coherence. Experimental Aging Research
Amini A, Banitsas K, Young WR (2019). Kinect4FOG: monitoring and improving mobility in people with Parkinson's using a novel system incorporating the Microsoft Kinect v2. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol, 14(6), 566-573. Abstract.  Author URL.
Chow VWK, Ellmers TJ, Young WR, Mak TCT, Wong TWL (2019). Revisiting the relationship between internal focus and balance control in young and older adults. Frontiers in Neurology, 10(JAN). Abstract.
Mak TCT, Young W, Lam WK, Tse ACY, Wong TWL (2019). The Role of Attentional Focus on Walking Efficiency among Older Fallers and Non-fallers. Age and Ageing
Ellmers TJ, Young WR (2019). The influence of anxiety and attentional focus on visual search during adaptive gait. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 45(6), 697-714.
Doumas M, Morsanyi K, Young WR (2018). Cognitively and socially induced stress affects postural control. Exp Brain Res, 236(1), 305-314. Abstract.  Author URL.
Ellmers TJ, Young WR (2018). Conscious motor control impairs attentional processing efficiency during precision stepping. Gait & Posture, 63, 58-62.
Mak TCT, Young WR, Chan DCL, Wong TWL (2018). Gait Stability in Older Adults During Level-Ground Walking: the Attentional Focus Approach. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Ellmers TJ, Paraskevopoulos IT, Williams AM, Young WR (2018). Recalibrating disparities in perceived and actual balance abilities in older adults: a mixed-methods evaluation of a novel exergaming intervention. J Neuroeng Rehabil, 15(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Uiga L, Capio CM, Ryu D, Young WR, Wilson MR, Wong TWL, Tse ACY, Masters RSW (2018). The Role of Movement-Specific Reinvestment in Visuomotor Control of Walking by Older Adults. Journals of Gerontology, Series B, 75(2), 282-292. Abstract.
Keune PM, Young WR, Paraskevopoulos IT, Hansen S, Muenssinger J, Oschmann P, Müller R (2017). Measuring standing balance in multiple sclerosis: Further progress towards an automatic and reliable method in clinical practice. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 379, 157-162.
Ellmers TJ, Machado G, Wong TW-L, Zhu F, Williams AM, Young WR (2016). A validation of neural co-activation as a measure of attentional focus in a postural task. Gait Posture, 50, 229-231. Abstract.  Author URL.
Young WR, Shreve L, Quinn EJ, Craig C, Bronte-Stewart H (2016). Auditory cueing in Parkinson's patients with freezing of gait. What matters most: Action-relevance or cue-continuity?. Neuropsychologia, 87, 54-62. Abstract.  Author URL.
Young WR, Olonilua M, Masters RSW, Dimitriadis S, Mark Williams A (2016). Examining links between anxiety, reinvestment and walking when talking by older adults during adaptive gait. Exp Brain Res, 234(1), 161-172. Abstract.  Author URL.
Ellmers TJ, Cocks AJ, Doumas M, Williams AM, Young WR (2016). Gazing into thin air: the dual-task costs of movement planning and execution during adaptive gait. PLoS ONE, 11(11). Abstract.
Whyatt C, Merriman NA, Young WR, Newell FN, Craig C (2015). A Wii Bit of Fun: a Novel Platform to Deliver Effective Balance Training to Older Adults. Games Health J, 4(6), 423-433. Abstract.  Author URL.
Keune PM, Cocks AJ, Young WR, Burschka JM, Hansen S, Hofstadt-van Oy U, Oschmann P, Muenssinger J (2015). Dynamic walking features and improved walking performance in multiple sclerosis patients treated with fampridine (4-aminopyridine). BMC Neurology, 15(1).
Young WR, Mark Williams A (2015). How fear of falling can increase fall-risk in older adults: Applying psychological theory to practical observations. Gait & Posture, 41(1), 7-12.
Young W, Williams AM (2015). The multifaceted nature of fear of falling must be considered. The Journal of Physiology
Young WR, Rodger MWM, Craig CM (2014). Auditory observation of stepping actions can cue both spatial and temporal components of gait in Parkinson's disease patients. Neuropsychologia, 57(1), 140-153. Abstract.
Rodger MWM, Young WR, Craig CM (2014). Synthesis of walking sounds for alleviating gait disturbances in Parkinson's disease. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 22(3), 543-548. Abstract.
Young WR (2014). We need a balanced perspective in Wii-search. Gait & Posture, 39(4), 1156-1157.
Young W, Rodger M, Craig CM (2013). Perceiving and reenacting spatiotemporal characteristics of walking sounds. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39(2), 464-476. Abstract.
Bieńkiewicz MMN, Rodger MWM, Young WR, Craig CM (2013). Time to get a move on: Overcoming bradykinetic movement in Parkinson's disease with artificial sensory guidance generated from biological motion. Behavioural Brain Research, 253, 113-120. Abstract.
Young WR, Hollands MA (2012). Evidence for age-related decline in visuomotor function and reactive stepping adjustments. Gait Posture, 36(3), 477-481. Abstract.  Author URL.
Young WR, Wing AM, Hollands MA (2012). Influences of state anxiety on gaze behavior and stepping accuracy in older adults during adaptive locomotion. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, 67(1), 43-51. Abstract.  Author URL.
Young WR, Hollands MA (2012). Newly acquired fear of falling leads to altered eye movement patterns and reduced stepping safety: a case study. PLoS One, 7(11). Abstract.  Author URL.
Merriman NA, Whyatt C, Setti A, Gillian N, Young W, Ferguson S, Craig C, Newell FN (2012). The effect of balance training on audio–visual integration in older adults. Multisensory Research, 25(0), 155-155.
Young W, Ferguson S, Brault S, Craig C (2011). Assessing and training standing balance in older adults: a novel approach using the 'Nintendo Wii' Balance Board. Gait Posture, 33(2), 303-305. Abstract.  Author URL.
Thøgersen-Ntoumani C, Barkoukis V, Grano C, Lucidi F, Lindwall M, Liukkonen J, Raudsepp L, Young W (2011). Health and well-being profiles of older European adults. European Journal of Ageing, 8(2), 75-85.
Young WR, Hollands MA (2010). Can telling older adults where to look reduce falls? Evidence for a causal link between inappropriate visual sampling and suboptimal stepping performance. Exp Brain Res, 204(1), 103-113. Abstract.  Author URL.


Young WR, Ellmers TJ (2022). Translating Attentional Control Theory to Applied Psychological Eye Tracking Research. In  (Ed) Eye Tracking, Springer Nature, 131-149.


Ellmers TJ, Young WR, Paraskevopoulos IT (2017). Integratingfall-risk assessments within a simple balance exergame. 2017 9th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games). 6th - 8th Sep 2017.
Young WR, Rodger MWM, Craig M (2012). Using ecological event-based acoustic guides to cue gait in Parkinson's disease patients.  Author URL.

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