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Interacting Effects of Cognitive Load and Adult Age on the Regularity of Whole-Body Motion During Treadmill Walking

  • Julius Verrel
  • Martin Lövdén
  • Michael Schellenbach
  • Sabine Schaefer
  • Ulman Lindenberger
Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 75-81
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Psychology and Aging
Volym: 24
Nummer: 1
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: American Psychological Association (APA)


We investigated effects of concurrent cognitive task difficulty (n-back) on the regularity of whole-body movements during treadmill walking in women and men from 3 age groups (20-30, 60-70, and 70-80 years old). Using principal component analysis of individual gait patterns, we separated main (regular) from residual (irregular) components of whole-body motion. Proportion of residual variance (RV) was used as an index of gait irregularity. The gait in all age groups became more regular (reduced RV) upon introduction of a simple cognitive task (1-back), relative to walking without a concurrent cognitive task. In contrast, parametrically increasing working memory load from 1-back to 4-back led to age-differential effects, with gait patterns becoming more regular in those 20-30 years old, becoming less regular in those 70-80 years old, and showing no significant effects in those 60-70 years old. Our results support the dual-process account of sensorimotor-cognitive interactions (O. Huxhold, S.-C. Li, F. Schmiedek, and U. Lindenberger, 2006), with age-general effects of internal versus external attentional focus and age-specific effects of resource competition with increasing cognitive task difficulty.


  • Psychology
  • aging
  • dual-tasking
  • gait
  • principal component analysis
  • working memory


  • ISSN: 0882-7974

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