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Journal Article


Dalton C, Sciadas R, Nantel J. Aging Clin. Exp. Res. 2015; 28(5): 909-915.


Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, Ottawa University, 125 rue Université, Pavillon Montpetit, MNT 353, Ottawa, K1N 6N5, Canada.


(Copyright © 2015, Editrice Kurtis)






To determine the effect of age on stepping performance and to compare the cognitive demand required to regulate repetitive stepping between older and younger adults while performing a stepping in place task (SIP). Fourteen younger (25.4 ± 6.5) and 15 older adults (71.0 ± 9.0) participated in this study. They performed a seated category fluency task and Stroop test, followed by a 60 s SIP task. Following this, both the cognitive and motor tasks were performed simultaneously. We assessed cognitive performance, SIP cycle duration, asymmetry, and arrhythmicity. Compared to younger adults, older adults had larger SIP arrhythmicity both as a single task and when combined with the Category (p < 0.001) and Stroop (p < 0.01) tasks. Older adults also had larger arrhythmicity when dual tasking compared to SIP alone (p < 0.001). Older adults showed greater SIP asymmetry when combined with Category (p = 0.006) and Stroop (p = 0.06) tasks. Finally, they had lower cognitive performance than younger adults in both single and dual tasks (p < 0.01). Age and type of cognitive task performed with the motor task affected different components of stepping. While SIP arrhythmicity was larger for all conditions in older compared to younger adults, cycle duration was not different, and asymmetry tended to be larger during SIP when paired with a verbal fluency task. SIP does not require a high level of control for dynamic stability, therefore demonstrating that higher-level executive function is necessary for the regulation of stepping activity independently of the regulation of postural balance. Furthermore, older adults may lack the cognitive resources needed to adequately regulate stepping activity while performing a cognitive task relying on the executive function.

Language: en


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