Effect of Working Memory and Spatial Attention Tasks on Gait in Healthy Young and Older Adults

in Motor Control
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Changes in gait parameters induced by the concomitant performance of one of two cognitive tasks activating working memory and spatial attention, was examined in healthy young adults (YA) and older adults (OA). There was a main effect of task condition on gait-speed (p = .02), stride-length (p < .001) and double-support time (p = .04) independent of the group. There were no significant differences between working memory and spatial attention associated gait changes. Working-memory and spatial-attention dual-tasking led to a decrease in gait-speed (p = .09 and 0.01) and stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) and increase in double-support time (p = .01 and 0.03) in YA and decrease in stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) alone in OA. Cognitive task associated changes in gait may be a function of limited attentional resources irrespective of the type of cognitive task.

Nadkarni is with the L. C. Campbell Cognitive Neurology Research Unit; Heart and Stroke Foundation-Centre for Stroke Recovery, Neuroscience Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Institute of Medical Science and Program in Neuroscience, University of Toronto. Zabjek is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto. Lee is with the L. C. Campbell Cognitive Neurology Research Unit. McIlroy is with Heart and Stroke Foundation-Centre for Stroke Recovery, Neuroscience Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Division of Neurology, Dept. of Medicine, University of Toronto; Institute of Medical Science and Program in Neuroscience, University of Toronto; and Dept. of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. Black is with the L. C. Campbell Cognitive Neurology Research Unit; Heart and Stroke Foundation-Centre for Stroke Recovery, Neuroscience Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Division of Neurology, Dept. of Medicine, University of Toronto; Institute of Medical Science and Program in Neuroscience, University of Toronto; and Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto.