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Observing prioritization effects on cognition and gait: the effect of increased cognitive load on cognitively healthy older adults' dual-task performance

MacLean, L. M., Brown, L. J.E., Khadra, H. and Astell, A. J. (2017) Observing prioritization effects on cognition and gait: the effect of increased cognitive load on cognitively healthy older adults' dual-task performance. Gait and Posture, 53. pp. 139-144. ISSN 0966-6362

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.01.018

Abstract/Summary

Previous studies exploring the effects of attention-prioritization on cognitively healthy older adults’ gait and cognitive dual task (DT) performance have shown DT cost in gait outcomes but inconsistent effects on cognitive performance, which may reflect task difficulty (the cognitive load). This study aimed to identify whether changing the cognitive load during a walking and counting DT improved the challenge/ sensitivity of the cognitive task to observe prioritization effects on concurrent gait and cognitive performance outcomes. Seventy-two cognitively healthy older adults (Mean=73years) walked 15m, counted backwards in 3 s and 7 s as single tasks (ST), and concurrently walked and counted backwards as DTs. Attention-prioritization was examined in Prioritizing Walking (PW) and Prioritizing Counting (PC) DT conditions. Dual-task performance costs (DTC) were calculated for number of correct cognitive responses (CCR) in the counting tasks, and step-time variability and velocity in the gait task. All DT conditions showed a benefit (DTB) for cognitive outcomes with trade-off cost to gait. In the Serial 3 s task, the cognitive DTBs increased in PC over the PW condition (p<0.05), with a greater cost to walking velocity (p < 0.05). DT effects were more pronounced in the Serial 7 s with a lower cognitive DTB when PC than when PW, (p < 0.05) with no trade-off increase in cost to gait outcomes (p < 0.05). The findings suggest that increased cognitive load during a gait and cognitive DT produces more pronounced gait measures of attention-prioritization in cognitively healthy older adults. A cognitive load effect was also observed in the cognitive outcomes, with unexpected results.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Ageing
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:69275
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd

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