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Temporal characteristics of imagined and actual walking in frail older adults

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Mental chronometry, commonly used to evaluate motor imagery ability, measures the imagined time required for movements. Previous studies investigating mental chronometry of walking have investigated healthy older adults. However, mental chronometry in frail older adults has not yet been clarified.


To investigate temporal characteristics of imagined and actual walking in frail older adults.


We investigated the time required for imagined and actual walking along three walkways of different widths [width(s): 50, 25, 15 cm × length: 5 m] in 29 frail older adults and 20 young adults. Imagined walking was measured with mental chronometry.


We observed significantly longer imagined and actual walking times along walkways of 50, 25, and 15 cm width in frail older adults compared with young adults. Moreover, temporal differences (absolute error) between imagined and actual walking were significantly greater in frail older adults than in young adults along walkways with a width of 25 and 15 cm. Furthermore, we observed significant differences in temporal differences (constant error) between frail older adults and young adults for walkways with a width of 25 and 15 cm. Frail older adults tended to underestimate actual walking time in imagined walking trials.


Our results suggest that walkways of different widths may be a useful tool to evaluate age-related changes in imagined and actual walking in frail older adults.

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We would like to thank all volunteers who participated in this study.

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Correspondence to Hideki Nakano.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Nakano, H., Murata, S., Shiraiwa, K. et al. Temporal characteristics of imagined and actual walking in frail older adults. Aging Clin Exp Res 30, 1453–1457 (2018).

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