The role of spatial alignment in posture-cognition dual task interaction

Mitra, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7620-4809, Vernon, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-9269-9802 and Boulton, H. ORCID: 0000-0003-1919-9243, 2022. The role of spatial alignment in posture-cognition dual task interaction. Gait and Posture, 93, pp. 54-58. ISSN 0966-6362

1511941_Boulton.pdf - Post-print

Download (223kB) | Preview


Background: A range of cognitive tasks can interfere with postural control, particularly in older adults. In the case of spatial tasks, the spatial alignment between the task and postural control can incur dual-task costs separately from task load. It has been suggested that spatial tasks incur dual-task costs because accessing the visuospatial sketchpad component of working memory reduces the capacity to utilize external visual information for postural control.

Research question: We investigated whether the spatial alignment between a cognitive and a postural control task can affect postural stability even when visual perception is not involved in either task and task load does not differ between aligned and non-aligned conditions. We predicted that any such effect would be greater in older people and in a more challenging stance.

Methods: Fifty healthy adults (27 aged 20–35, 23 aged 59–88) with no history of balance or cognitive difficulties performed a mental navigation task while standing in open or closed stance with eyes closed. The mental navigation task was presented in a reference plane that was either aligned or non-aligned to the horizontal reference plane in which the posture control system controlled the position of the body’s center of gravity. Task performance was measured as accuracy and response time and postural sway as anteroposterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) sway velocity.

Results: The older group were less accurate in the mental navigation task, and both groups had higher AP and ML sway velocity in closed stance. When standing in the more challenging stance, the older group had higher AP sway velocity while performing the mental navigation task in the non-aligned than the aligned reference plane condition.

Significance: The spatial configuration compatibility between a cognitive task and postural control can affect postural stability even when visual information is not being used for either task and task load is unchanged.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Gait and Posture
Creators: Mitra, S., Vernon, M. and Boulton, H.
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date: March 2022
Volume: 93
ISSN: 0966-6362
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 27 Jan 2022 15:37
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2023 03:00

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year