Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 115–120 | Cite as

Effects of a secondary task on obstacle avoidance in healthy young adults

  • Ka-Chun Siu
  • Robert D. Catena
  • Li-Shan Chou
  • Paul van Donkelaar
  • Marjorie H. Woollacott
Research Article

Abstract

Research on attention and gait stability has suggested that the process of recovering gait stability requires attentional resources, but the effect of performing a secondary task on stability during obstacle avoidance is poorly understood. Using a dual-task paradigm, the present experiment investigated the extent to which young adults are able to respond to a secondary auditory Stroop task (requiring executive attentional network resources) concurrently with obstacle crossing during gait when compared with performing unobstructed walking or sitting (control task). Our results demonstrated that as the level of difficulty in the postural task increased, there was a significant reduction in verbal response time from congruent to incongruent conditions in the auditory Stroop task, but no differences in gait parameters, indicating that these postural tasks require attention, and that young adults use a strategy of modulating the auditory Stroop task performance while keeping stable gait performance under the dual-task situations. Our findings suggest the existence of a hierarchy of control within both postural task (obstacle avoidance requires the most information processing resources) and dual-task (with gait stability being a priority) conditions.

Keywords

Attention Obstacle avoidance Dual-task paradigm Gait 

References

  1. Beauchet O, Dubost V, Herrmann FR, Kressig RW (2005) Stride-to-stride variability while backward counting among healthy young adults. J Neuroeng Rehabil 2:26CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Brauer SG, Woollacott MH, Shumway-Cook A (2001) The interacting effects of cognitive demand and recovery of postural stability in balance-impaired elderly. J Gerontol Med Sci 56A:M489–M496Google Scholar
  3. Brown LA, McKenzie NC, Doan JB (2005) Age-dependent differences in the attentional demands of obstacle negotiation. J Gerontol Med Sci 60A:M924–M927Google Scholar
  4. Chen H-C, Aston-Miller JA, Alexander NB, Schultz AB (1994) Effects of age and available response time on ability to step over an obstacle. J Gerontol 49:M227–M233PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen G, Martin M (1975) Hemisphere differences in an auditory stroop test. Percept Psychophys 17:79–83Google Scholar
  6. Ebersbach G, Dimitrijevic MR, Poewe W (1995) Influence of concurrent tasks on gait: a dual-task approach. Percept Mot Skills 81:107–113PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Gage WH, Sleik RJ, Sleik RJ, Polych MA, McKenzie NC, Brown LA (2003) The allocation of attention during locomotion is altered by anxiety. Exp Brain Res 150:385–394PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Hahn ME, Chou LS (2004) Age-related reduction in sagittal plane center of mass motion during obstacle crossing. J Biomech 37:837–844PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kahneman D (1973) Attention and effort. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ Google Scholar
  10. Kahneman D, Chajczyk D (1983) Tests of the automaticity of reading: dilution of Stroop effects by color-irrelevant stimuli. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 9(4):497–509PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lajoie Y, Teasdale N, Bard C, Fleury M (1993) Attentional demands for static and dynamic equilibrium. Exp Brain Res 97:139–144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lajoie Y, Teasdale N, Bard C, Fleury M (1996) Upright standing and gait: are there changes in attentional requirements related to normal aging? Exp Aging Res 22:185–198PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Neumann O (1984) Automatic processing: a review of recent findings and a plea for an old theory. In: Prinz W, Sanders AF (eds) Cognition and motor processes. Springer, Berlin, pp 255–293Google Scholar
  14. Posner MI (1994) Attention: the mechanisms of consciousness. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 91:7398–7403PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Shumway-Cook A, Woollacott M, Kerns KA, Baldwin M (1997) The effects of two types of cognitive tasks on postural stability in older adults with and without a history of falls. J Gerontol 52:M232–240Google Scholar
  16. Siu KC, Woollacott MH (2007) Attentional demands of postural control: The ability to selectively allocate information-processing resources. Gait Posture 25:121–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sparrow WA, Bradshaw EJ, Lamoureux E, Tirosh O (2002) Ageing effects on the attention demands of walking. Hum Mov Sci 21(5, 6):961–972PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Weerdesteyn V, Schillings AM, van Galen GP, Duysens J (2003) Distraction affects the performance of obstacle avoidance during walking. J Mot Behav 35(1):53–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wickens CD (1989) Attention and skilled performance. In: Holding DH (eds) Human skills. Wiley, New York, pp 71–105Google Scholar
  20. Winter DA (1990) Biomechanics and motor control of human movement, 2nd edn. Wiley-Interscience, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Woltring HJ (1986) A FORTRAN package for generalized, cross-validatory spline smoothing and differentiation. Adv Eng Softw 8:104–113Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ka-Chun Siu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Robert D. Catena
    • 2
  • Li-Shan Chou
    • 2
  • Paul van Donkelaar
    • 3
  • Marjorie H. Woollacott
    • 3
  1. 1.HPER Biomechanics LaboratoryUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Motion Analysis Laboratory, Department of Human PhysiologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  3. 3.Motor Control Laboratory, Department of Human PhysiologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations