Purpose: To investigate the effects of aging on postural control and cognitive performance in single- and dual-tasking. Methods: A cross-sectional comparative design was conducted in a university motion analysis laboratory. Young adults (n = 30; age 21.9 ± 2.4 years) and older adults (n = 30; age 71.9 ± 6.4 years) were recruited. Postural control after stepping down was measured with and without performing a concurrent auditory response task. Measurement included: (1) reaction time and (2) error rate in performing the cognitive task; (3) total sway path and (4) total sway area after stepping down. Results: Our findings showed that the older adults had significantly longer reaction times and higher error rates than the younger subjects in both the single-tasking and dual-tasking conditions. The older adults had significantly longer reaction times and higher error rates when dual-tasking compared with single-tasking, but the younger adults did not. The older adults demonstrated significantly less total sway path, but larger total sway area in single-leg stance after stepping down than the young adults. The older adults showed no significant change in total sway path and area between the dual-tasking and when compared with single-tasking conditions, while the younger adults showed significant decreases in sway. Conclusion: Older adults prioritize postural control by sacrificing cognitive performance when faced with dual-tasking.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physiology (medical)