Does inability to allocate attention contribute to balance constraints during gait in older adults?

Joseph Ka-Chun Siu, Li Shan Chou, Ulrich Mayr, Paul Van Donkelaar, Marjorie H. Woollacott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background. Recent research has explored dual-task deficits during locomotion in older adults, yet the mechanisms underlying these deficits are poorly understood. In the current study, we examined one possible factor contributing to these deficits, the inability to flexibly allocate attention between two tasks. Methods. Twelve healthy young adults and 12 healthy elderly adults performed obstacle avoidance while walking and an auditory Stroop task either alone or simultaneously. Results. Using an attentional allocation index (AAI) to compare performance of healthy young and older adults and to measure the flexibility of allocation of attention, results showed a tendency in older adults toward a decreased ability to flexibly allocate their attention between the two tasks, with small AAI values. The decreased ability to allocate attention in older adults was found to be more prominent in the auditory Stroop task performance than in the obstacle avoidance task. Conclusion. This study suggests that an important factor contributing to decreased dual-task performance in older adults when simultaneously performing a postural and secondary cognitive task is a reduced ability to flexibly allocate attention between the two tasks, with the general ability to switch attention flexibly being predictive of the ability to adhere to a prioritized focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1369
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume63
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Fingerprint

Aptitude
Gait
Task Performance and Analysis
Young Adult
Locomotion
Walking
Research

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Attention
  • Gait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Cite this

Does inability to allocate attention contribute to balance constraints during gait in older adults? / Siu, Joseph Ka-Chun; Chou, Li Shan; Mayr, Ulrich; Van Donkelaar, Paul; Woollacott, Marjorie H.

In: Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, Vol. 63, No. 12, 12.2008, p. 1364-1369.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{f4584a7a5cd647e7b2171e101e4f41ed,
title = "Does inability to allocate attention contribute to balance constraints during gait in older adults?",
abstract = "Background. Recent research has explored dual-task deficits during locomotion in older adults, yet the mechanisms underlying these deficits are poorly understood. In the current study, we examined one possible factor contributing to these deficits, the inability to flexibly allocate attention between two tasks. Methods. Twelve healthy young adults and 12 healthy elderly adults performed obstacle avoidance while walking and an auditory Stroop task either alone or simultaneously. Results. Using an attentional allocation index (AAI) to compare performance of healthy young and older adults and to measure the flexibility of allocation of attention, results showed a tendency in older adults toward a decreased ability to flexibly allocate their attention between the two tasks, with small AAI values. The decreased ability to allocate attention in older adults was found to be more prominent in the auditory Stroop task performance than in the obstacle avoidance task. Conclusion. This study suggests that an important factor contributing to decreased dual-task performance in older adults when simultaneously performing a postural and secondary cognitive task is a reduced ability to flexibly allocate attention between the two tasks, with the general ability to switch attention flexibly being predictive of the ability to adhere to a prioritized focus.",
keywords = "Aging, Attention, Gait",
author = "Siu, {Joseph Ka-Chun} and Chou, {Li Shan} and Ulrich Mayr and {Van Donkelaar}, Paul and Woollacott, {Marjorie H.}",
year = "2008",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1093/gerona/63.12.1364",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "63",
pages = "1364--1369",
journal = "Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences",
issn = "1079-5006",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "12",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Does inability to allocate attention contribute to balance constraints during gait in older adults?

AU - Siu, Joseph Ka-Chun

AU - Chou, Li Shan

AU - Mayr, Ulrich

AU - Van Donkelaar, Paul

AU - Woollacott, Marjorie H.

PY - 2008/12

Y1 - 2008/12

N2 - Background. Recent research has explored dual-task deficits during locomotion in older adults, yet the mechanisms underlying these deficits are poorly understood. In the current study, we examined one possible factor contributing to these deficits, the inability to flexibly allocate attention between two tasks. Methods. Twelve healthy young adults and 12 healthy elderly adults performed obstacle avoidance while walking and an auditory Stroop task either alone or simultaneously. Results. Using an attentional allocation index (AAI) to compare performance of healthy young and older adults and to measure the flexibility of allocation of attention, results showed a tendency in older adults toward a decreased ability to flexibly allocate their attention between the two tasks, with small AAI values. The decreased ability to allocate attention in older adults was found to be more prominent in the auditory Stroop task performance than in the obstacle avoidance task. Conclusion. This study suggests that an important factor contributing to decreased dual-task performance in older adults when simultaneously performing a postural and secondary cognitive task is a reduced ability to flexibly allocate attention between the two tasks, with the general ability to switch attention flexibly being predictive of the ability to adhere to a prioritized focus.

AB - Background. Recent research has explored dual-task deficits during locomotion in older adults, yet the mechanisms underlying these deficits are poorly understood. In the current study, we examined one possible factor contributing to these deficits, the inability to flexibly allocate attention between two tasks. Methods. Twelve healthy young adults and 12 healthy elderly adults performed obstacle avoidance while walking and an auditory Stroop task either alone or simultaneously. Results. Using an attentional allocation index (AAI) to compare performance of healthy young and older adults and to measure the flexibility of allocation of attention, results showed a tendency in older adults toward a decreased ability to flexibly allocate their attention between the two tasks, with small AAI values. The decreased ability to allocate attention in older adults was found to be more prominent in the auditory Stroop task performance than in the obstacle avoidance task. Conclusion. This study suggests that an important factor contributing to decreased dual-task performance in older adults when simultaneously performing a postural and secondary cognitive task is a reduced ability to flexibly allocate attention between the two tasks, with the general ability to switch attention flexibly being predictive of the ability to adhere to a prioritized focus.

KW - Aging

KW - Attention

KW - Gait

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=62149148092&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=62149148092&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/gerona/63.12.1364

DO - 10.1093/gerona/63.12.1364

M3 - Article

C2 - 19126850

AN - SCOPUS:62149148092

VL - 63

SP - 1364

EP - 1369

JO - Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

JF - Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

SN - 1079-5006

IS - 12

ER -