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Comparable cerebral oxygenation patterns in younger and older adults during dual-task walking with increasing load

Sarah A. Fraser, Olivier Dupuy, Philippe Pouliot, Frédéric Lesage and Louis Bherer

Article (2016)

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Cite this document: Fraser, S. A., Dupuy, O., Pouliot, P., Lesage, F. & Bherer, L. (2016). Comparable cerebral oxygenation patterns in younger and older adults during dual-task walking with increasing load. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8, p. 1-9. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2016.00240
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The neuroimaging literature on dual-task gait clearly demonstrates increased prefrontal cortex (PFC) involvement when performing a cognitive task while walking. However, findings from direct comparisons of the cerebral oxygenation patterns of younger (YA) and older (OA) adults during dual-task walking are mixed and it is unclear how YA and OA respond to increasing cognitive load (difficulty) while walking. This functional near infra-red (fNIRS) study examined cerebral oxygenation of YA and OA during self-paced dual-task treadmill walking at two different levels of cognitive load (auditory n-back). Changes in accuracy (%) as well as oxygenated (HbO) and deoxygenated (HbR) hemoglobin were examined. For the HbO and HbR measures, eight regions of interest (ROls) were assessed: the anterior and posterior dorsolateral and ventrolateral PFC (aDLPFC, pDLPFC, aVLPFC, pVLPFC) in each hemisphere. Nineteen YA (M = 21.83 years) and 14 OA (M = 66.85 years) walked at a self-selected pace while performing auditory 1-back and 2-back tasks. Walking alone (single motor: SM) and performing the cognitive tasks alone (single cognitive: SC) were compared to dual-task walking (DT = SM + SC). In the behavioural data, participants were more accurate in the lowest level of load (1-back) compared to the highest (2-back; p < 0.001). YA were more accurate than OA overall (p = 0.009), and particularly in the 2-back task (p = 0.048). In the fNIRS data, both younger and older adults had task effects (SM < DT) in specific ROls for A HbO (three YA, one OA) and Delta HbR (seven YA, eight OA). After controlling for walk speed differences, direct comparisons between YA and OA did not reveal significant age differences, but did reveal a difficulty effect in HbO in the left aDLPFC (13 = 0.028) and significant task effects (SM < DT) in HbR for six of the eight ROls. Findings suggest that YA and OA respond similarly to manipulations of cognitive load when walking on a treadmill at a self-selected pace.

Uncontrolled Keywords

Dual-task walk; cognitive aging; Cognitive Load; prefrontal cortex (PFC); functional near infrared spectroscopy brain imaging; cerebral oxygenation

Open Access document in PolyPublie
Subjects: 1900 Génie biomédical > 1900 Génie biomédical
2500 Génie électrique et électronique > 2500 Génie électrique et électronique
9000 Sciences de la santé > 9000 Sciences de la santé
Department: Département de génie électrique
Research Center: Non applicable
Funders: Fond de recherche du Québec--Nature et technologies
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 13:14
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2021 10:43
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/3499/
Document issued by the official publisher
Journal Title: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (vol. 8)
Publisher: Frontiers
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2016.00240


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