The current study critically assessed the relationship between cognitive functions and gait in nondemented older adults. Quantitative measures of gait (velocity, cadence, and a coefficient of variance in stride length) were assessed in single and dual-task conditions. Three cognitive factors captured the domains of Executive Attention, Verbal IQ, and Memory. Linear regressions showed that Executive Attention was related to velocity in both walking conditions. However, Memory and Verbal IQ were also related to velocity. Memory was related to Cadence in both walking conditions. Executive Attention was related to the coefficient of variance in stride length in both walking conditions. Linear mixed effects models showed that dual-task costs were largest in velocity followed by cadence and the coefficient of variance in stride length. The relationship between cognitive functions and gait depends, in part, on the analytic approach used, gait parameters assessed, and walking condition.
Roee Holtzer, Cuiling Wang and Joe Verghese
Manuel E. Hernandez, Erin O’Donnell, Gioella Chaparro, Roee Holtzer, Meltem Izzetoglu, Brian M. Sandroff and Robert W. Motl
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy was used to evaluate prefrontal cortex activation differences between older adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy older adults (HOA) during the performance of a balance- and attention-demanding motor task. Ten older adults with MS and 12 HOA underwent functional near-infrared spectroscopy recording while talking, virtual beam walking, or virtual beam walking while talking on a self-paced treadmill. The MS group demonstrated smaller increases in prefrontal cortex oxygenation levels than HOA during virtual beam walking while talking than talking tasks. These findings indicate a decreased ability to allocate additional attentional resources in challenging walking conditions among MS compared with HOA. This study is the first to investigate brain activation dynamics during the performance of balance- and attention-demanding motor tasks in persons with MS.