Original Article

Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 539-544

Brain activation during dual-task walking and executive function among older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a fNIRS study

  • Takehiko DoiAffiliated withSection for Health Promotion, Department for Research and Development to Support Independent Life of Elderly, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology Email author 
  • , Hyuma MakizakoAffiliated withSection for Health Promotion, Department for Research and Development to Support Independent Life of Elderly, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • , Hiroyuki ShimadaAffiliated withSection for Health Promotion, Department for Research and Development to Support Independent Life of Elderly, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • , Hyuntae ParkAffiliated withSection for Physical Functioning Activation, Department of Functioning Activation, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • , Kota TsutsumimotoAffiliated withSection for Health Promotion, Department for Research and Development to Support Independent Life of Elderly, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and GerontologyDepartment of Rehabilitation Science, Kobe University Graduate School of Health Sciences
  • , Kazuki UemuraAffiliated withSection for Health Promotion, Department for Research and Development to Support Independent Life of Elderly, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • , Takao SuzukiAffiliated withResearch Institute, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology

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Abstract

Background and aims

Dual-task walking (DTW) is thought to involve activation of the prefrontal cortex in healthy adults and to be affected by cognitive impairment. However, it is unclear whether prefrontal cortex activation is involved in DTW in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. This study examined brain activation during DTW among older adults with mild cognitive impairment using functional near-infrared spectroscopy.

Methods

Sixteen older adults (aged 75.4 ± 7.2 years, women n = 6) performed gait experiments under normal walking and DTW conditions. We used a design with 60-s blocks consisting of a 10-s rest standing as pre-resting period, a 20-s walking task period, and a 30-s rest standing as post-resting period. Walking speed was measured during a 20-s walking task. Changes in oxy-hemoglobin were measured in the prefrontal area during gait experiments.

Results

Walking speed was slower during DTW compared with normal walking (p < 0.001). The oxy-hemoglobin level during DTW was higher than during normal walking (p < 0.001) and was correlated with executive function, as measured by Stroop interference (p < 0.05).

Conclusion

Our findings indicate that DTW is associated with prefrontal activation among older adults with mild cognitive impairment. The brain activation during DTW was correlated with executive function. Additional studies are necessary to elucidate the effects of cognitive impairment on the association between prefrontal activity and walking under various conditions.

Keywords

Dual-task walking Mild cognitive impairment Functional near-infrared spectroscopy Older adults