Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The nature of dual-task interference during gait in incident Parkinson's disease

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lynn RochesterORCiD, Dr Brook Galna, Dr Susan Lord, Professor David Burn


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


Dual-task interference during gait is a common phenomenon in older adults and people with Parkinson's disease (PD). Dual-task performance is driven by cognitive processes involving executive function, attention and working memory which underpin resource capacity and allocation. The underlying processes that contribute to dual-task interference are poorly understood, and confounded by methodological differences. The aim of this study was to explore the nature of dual-task interference in PD with respect to age-matched controls. We examined 121 people with early PD and 189 controls and controlled for baseline task demand on both tasks allowing between-group differences to be attributed to dual-task interference rather than differences in baseline performance. We also compared a wide range of gait characteristics to evaluate the pattern of interference. Participants walked for two minutes at a preferred pace under single- and dual-task (test of working memory capacity - digit span recall) conditions. In a subgroup task demand was increased (digit span + 1) (n = 55 control, n = 44 PD) to assess the influence of resource capacity. Finally the association between dual-task interference with motor and cognitive characteristics was examined to evaluate resource capacity and allocation. PD and controls responded similarly to the dual-task for all gait characteristics except for step width and step width variability and this was the same when task demand increased (dual + 1). Control participants took wider steps (p = 0.006) and step width variability increased significantly for controls (p = 0.001) but not PD. Interference was specific to the gait characteristic rather than a global pattern of impairment. Digit span error rates were not significantly different between/groups during dual-task performance. There were no significant correlations with dual-task interference and global cognition, motor deficit, and executive function for either group. Effects of dual-tasks on gait performance are twofold and specific to the gait characteristic. They reflect an age-related reduction in gait performance (especially forward progression) in PD and controls possibly due to reduced resource capacity; and secondly, show postural stability during walking in early PD is disproportionately affected highlighting a PD-specific dual-task co-ordination deficit. Further work is required to identify the cognitive, executive and motor correlates of dual-task interference from which inferences about underlying cognitive processes can be made. These findings inform an understanding of dual-task impairment in early PD and suggest that management should target postural control under dual-task conditions from the early stages. (C) 2014 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rochester L, Galna B, Lord S, Burn D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neuroscience

Year: 2014

Volume: 265

Pages: 83-94

Print publication date: 18/04/2014

Online publication date: 04/02/2014

Acceptance date: 21/01/2014

ISSN (print): 0306-4522

ISSN (electronic): 1873-7544

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.01.041


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric