Profiles of Cognitive-Motor Interference During Walking in Children: Does the Motor or the Cognitive Task Matter?
Published on 2018-06-13T10:42:06Z (GMT) by
<p>The evidence supporting the effects of age on the ability to coordinate a motor and a cognitive task show inconsistent results in children and adolescents, where the Dual-Task Effects (DTE) – if computed at all – range from either being lower or comparable or higher in younger children than in older children, adolescents and adults. A feasible reason for the variability in such findings is the wide range of cognitive tasks (and to some extend of motor tasks) used to study Cognitive-Motor Interference (CMI). Our study aims at determining the differences in CMI when performing cognitive tasks targeting different cognitive functions at varying walking pathways. 69 children and adolescents (boys, n = 45; girls, n = 24; mean age, 11.5 ± 1.50 years) completed higher-level executive function tasks (2-Back, Serial Subtraction, Auditory Stroop, Clock Task, TMT-B) in comparison to non-executive distracter tasks [Motor Response Task (MRT), TMT-A] to assess relative effects on gait during straight vs. repeated Change of Direction (COD) walking. DT during COD walking was assessed using the Trail-Walking-Test (TWT). The motor and cognitive DTE were calculated for each task. There were significant differences between 5th and 8th graders on single gait speed on the straight (p = 0.016) and the COD pathway (p = 0.023), but not on any of the DT conditions. The calculation of DTEs revealed that motor DTEs were lowest for the MRT and highest for the TWT in the numbers/letters condition (p < 0.05 for all comparisons). In contrast, there were cognitive benefits for the higher-order cognitive tasks on the straight pathways, but cognitive costs for both DT conditions on the COD pathway (p < 0.01 for all comparisons). Our findings demonstrate that DT changes in walking when completing a secondary task that involve higher-level cognition are attributable to more than low-level divided attention or motor response processes. These results specifically show the direct competition for higher-level executive function resources important for walking, and are in agreement with previous studies supporting the cognitive-motor link in relation to gait in children. This might be in line with the idea that younger children may not have adequate cognitive resources.</p>
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Schott, Nadja; Klotzbier, Thomas J. (2018): Profiles of Cognitive-Motor Interference During Walking in Children: Does the Motor or the Cognitive Task Matter?. Frontiers. Collection.
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