Neuroimaging of an attention demanding dual-task during dynamic postural control.
ABSTRACT: Cognitive tasks impact postural control when performed concurrently as dual-tasks. This is presumed to result from capacity limitations in relevant brain regions. We used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure brain activation of the left motor, temporal, and dorsal-lateral prefrontal brain regions of younger (n=6) and older (n=10) adults. Brain activation was measured during an auditory choice reaction task (CRT) and standing on a dynamic posturography platform, both as single-tasks and concurrently as dual-task. Body sway was assessed by median absolute deviation (MAD) of anterior-posterior translation of the center of mass (COM). Brain activation was measured as changes in oxy-hemoglobin by fNIRS. During both single- and dual-task conditions, we found that older adults had greater brain activation relative to younger adults. During dual task performance, the total activation was less than expected from the sum of individual conditions for both age groups, indicating a dual-task interference (reduction in younger adults=53% [p=0.02]; in older adults=53%; [p=0.008]). This reduction was greater for the activation attributable to the postural task (reduction younger adults=75% [p=0.03]; older adults=59% [p=0.005]) compared to the CRT task (reduction younger adults=10%, [p=0.6]; older adults=7.3%, [p=0.5]) in both age groups. Activation reduction was not accompanied by any significant changes in body sway in either group (older adults: single-task MAD=0.94cm, dual-task MAD=1.10cm, p=0.20; younger adults: single-task RMS=0.95cm, dual-task MAD=1.08cm, p=0.14). Our results indicate that neural resources devoted to postural control are reduced under dual-task conditions that engage attention.
Project description:Falls are the second most frequent cause of injury in the elderly. Physiological processes associated with aging affect the elderly's ability to respond to unexpected balance perturbations, leading to increased fall risk. Every year, approximately 30% of adults, 65 years and older, experiences at least one fall. Investigating the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the control of static and dynamic balance in the elderly is an emerging research area. The study aimed to identify cortical and muscular correlates during static and dynamic balance tests in a cohort of young and old healthy adults. We recorded cortical and muscular activity in nine elderly and eight younger healthy participants during an upright stance task in static and dynamic (core board) conditions. To simulate real-life dual-task postural control conditions, the second set of experiments incorporated an oddball visual task. We observed higher electroencephalographic (EEG) delta rhythm over the anterior cortex in the elderly and more diffused fast rhythms (i.e., alpha, beta, gamma) in younger participants during the static balance tests. When adding a visual oddball, the elderly displayed an increase in theta activation over the sensorimotor and occipital cortices. During the dynamic balance tests, the elderly showed the recruitment of sensorimotor areas and increased muscle activity level, suggesting a preferential motor strategy for postural control. This strategy was even more prominent during the oddball task. Younger participants showed reduced cortical and muscular activity compared to the elderly, with the noteworthy difference of a preferential activation of occipital areas that increased during the oddball task. These results support the hypothesis that different strategies are used by the elderly compared to younger adults during postural tasks, particularly when postural and cognitive tasks are combined. The knowledge gained in this study could inform the development of age-specific rehabilitative and assistive interventions.
Project description:In a postural-suprapostural task, appropriate prioritization is necessary to achieve task goals and maintain postural stability. A "posture-first" principle is typically favored by elderly people in order to secure stance stability, but this comes at the cost of reduced suprapostural performance. Using a postural-suprapostural task with a motor suprapostural goal, this study investigated differences between young and older adults in dual-task cost across varying task prioritization paradigms. Eighteen healthy young (mean age: 24.8 ± 5.2 years) and 18 older (mean age: 68.8 ± 3.7 years) adults executed a designated force-matching task from a stabilometer board using either a stabilometer stance (posture-focus strategy) or force-matching (supraposture-focus strategy) as the primary task. The dual-task effect (DTE: % change in dual-task condition; positive value: dual-task benefit, negative value: dual-task cost) of force-matching error and reaction time (RT), posture error, and approximate entropy (ApEn) of stabilometer movement were measured. When using the supraposture-focus strategy, young adults exhibited larger DTE values in each behavioral parameter than when using the posture-focus strategy. The older adults using the supraposture-focus strategy also attained larger DTE values for posture error, stabilometer movement ApEn, and force-matching error than when using the posture-focus strategy. These results suggest that the supraposture-focus strategy exerted an increased dual-task benefit for posture-motor dual-tasking in both healthy young and elderly adults. The present findings imply that the older adults should make use of the supraposture-focus strategy for fall prevention during dual-task execution.
Project description:Cognitive demands for postural control increase with aging and cognitive-motor interference (CMI) exists for a number of walking situations, especially with visuo-spatial cognitive tasks. Such interference also influences spatial learning abilities among older adults; however, this is rarely considered in research on aging in spatial navigation. We posited that visually and physically exploring an unknown environment may be subject to CMI for older adults. We investigated potential indicators of postural control interfering with spatial learning. Given known associations between age-related alterations in gait and brain structure, we also examined potential neuroanatomical correlates of this interference. Fourteen young and 14 older adults had to find an invisible goal in an unfamiliar, real, ecological environment. We measured walking speed, trajectory efficiency (direct route over taken route) and goal fixations (proportion of visual fixations toward the goal area). We calculated the change in walking speed between the first and last trials and adaptation indices for all three variables to quantify their modulation across learning trials. All participants were screened with a battery of visuo-cognitive tests. Eighteen of our participants (10 young, 8 older) also underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination. Older adults reduced their walking speed considerably on the first, compared to the last trial. The adaptation index of walking speed correlated positively with those of trajectory efficiency and goal fixations, indicating a reduction in resource sharing between walking and encoding the environment. The change in walking speed correlated negatively with gray matter volume in superior parietal and occipital regions and the precuneus. We interpret older adults' change in walking speed as indicative of CMI, similar to dual task costs. This is supported by the correlations between the adaptation indices and between the change in walking speed and gray matter volume in brain regions that are important for navigation, given that they are involved in visual attention, sensory integration and encoding of space. These findings under ecological conditions in a natural spatial learning task question what constitutes dual tasking in older adults and they can lead future research to reconsider the actual cognitive burden of postural control in aging navigation research.
Project description:Older adults show higher dual task performance decrements than younger adults. While this is assumed to be related to attentional capacity reductions, the precise affected functions are not specified. Such specification is, however, possible based on the "theory of visual attention" (TVA) which allows for modeling of distinct attentional capacity parameters. Furthermore, it is unclear whether older adults show qualitatively different attentional effects or whether they show the same effects as younger adults experience under more challenging conditions. By varying the complexity of the secondary task, it is possible to address this question. In our study, participants performed a verbal whole report of briefly presented letter arrays. TVA-based fitting of report performance delivered parameters of visual threshold <i>t</i><sub>0</sub>, processing speed <i>C</i>, and visual short-term memory (VSTM) storage capacity <i>K</i>. Furthermore, participants performed a concurrent motor task consisting of continuous tapping of a (simple or complex) sequence. Both TVA and tapping tasks were performed under single and dual task conditions. Two groups of 30 younger adults each performed either the simple or complex tapping, and a group of 30 older adults performed the simple tapping condition. In older participants, VSTM storage capacity declined under dual task conditions. While no such effect was found in younger subjects performing the simple tapping sequence under dual task conditions, the younger group performing the complex tapping task under dual task conditions also showed a significant VSTM capacity reduction. Generally, no significant effect on other TVA parameters or on tapping accuracy was found. Comparable goodness-of-fit measures were obtained for the TVA modeling data in single and dual tasks, indicating that tasks were executed in a qualitatively similar, continuous manner, although quantitatively less efficiently under dual- compared to single-task conditions. Taken together, our results show that the age-specific effects of motor-cognitive dual task interference are reflected by a stronger decline of VSTM storage capacity. They support an interpretation of VSTM as central attentional capacity, which is shared across visual uptake and concurrent motor performance. Capacity limits are reached earlier, and already under lower motor task complexity, in older compared to younger adults.
Project description:Audio-visual integration (AVI) is higher in attended conditions than in unattended conditions. Here, we explore the AVI effect when the attentional recourse is competed by additional visual distractors, and its aging effect using single- and dual-tasks. The results showed the highest AVI effect under single-task-attentional-load condition than under no- and dual-task-attentional-load conditions (all P < 0.05) in both older and younger groups, but the AVI effect was weaker and delayed for older adults compared to younger adults for all attentional-load conditions (all P < 0.05). The non-phase-locked oscillation for AVI analysis illustrated the highest theta and alpha oscillatory activity for single-task-attentional-load condition than for no- and dual-task-attentional-load conditions, and the AVI oscillatory activity mainly occurred in the Cz, CP1 and Oz of older adults but in the Fz, FC1, and Cz of younger adults. The AVI effect was significantly negatively correlated with FC1 (r 2 = 0.1468, P = 0.05) and Cz (r2 = 0.1447, P = 0.048) theta activity and with Fz (r 2 = 0.1557, P = 0.043), FC1 (r 2 = 0.1042, P = 0.008), and Cz (r 2 = 0.0897, P = 0.010) alpha activity for older adults but not for younger adults in dual task. These results suggested a reduction in AVI ability for peripheral stimuli and a shift in AVI oscillation from anterior to posterior regions in older adults as an adaptive mechanism.
Project description:The aim of this study was to examine whether older adults use the same task-specific brain activation patterns during two different bimanual hand movement tasks as younger adults. Functional magnetic resonance brain imaging was performed in 18 younger (mean age: 30.3 ± 3.6 years) and 11 older adults (62.6 ± 6.8 years) during the execution of cooperative (mimicking opening a bottle) or non-cooperative (bimanual pro-/supination) hand movements. We expected to see a stronger task-specific involvement of the secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) during cooperative hand movements in older compared to younger adults. However, S2 activation was present in both groups during the cooperative task and was only significantly stronger compared to the non-cooperative task in younger adults. In a whole brain-analysis, the contrast between older and younger adults revealed a hyperactivation of the bilateral dorsal premotor cortex (precentral gyrus), right thalamus, right frontal operculum, anterior cingulate cortex, and supplementary motor areas in older adults (<i>p</i> < 0.001), with some of them being visible after correcting for age. Age was positively associated with fMRI signal changes in these regions across the whole sample. Older adults showed reduced gray matter volume but not in regions showing task-related fMRI group differences. We also found an increase in functional connectivity between SMA, M1, thalamus, and precentral gyri in older adults. In contrast, younger adults showed hyperconnectivity between S2 and S1. We conclude that older compared to younger adults show age-related functional neuroplastic changes in brain regions involved in motor control and performance.
Project description:Changes in language functions during normal aging are greater for phonological compared with semantic processes. To investigate the behavioral and neural basis for these age-related differences, we used fMRI to examine younger and older adults who made semantic and phonological decisions about pictures. The behavioral performance of older adults was less accurate and less efficient than younger adults' in the phonological task but did not differ in the semantic task. In the fMRI analyses, the semantic task activated left-hemisphere language regions, and the phonological task activated bilateral cingulate and ventral precuneus. Age-related effects were widespread throughout the brain and most often expressed as greater activation for older adults. Activation was greater for younger compared with older adults in ventral brain regions involved in visual and object processing. Although there was not a significant Age × Condition interaction in the whole-brain fMRI results, correlations examining the relationship between behavior and fMRI activation were stronger for younger compared with older adults. Our results suggest that the relationship between behavior and neural activation declines with age, and this may underlie some of the observed declines in performance.
Project description:A major challenge in research on executive control is to reveal its functional decomposition into underlying neural mechanisms. A typical assumption is that this decomposition occurs solely through anatomically based dissociations. Here we tested an alternative hypothesis that different cognitive control processes may be implemented within the same brain regions, with fractionation and dissociation occurring on the basis of temporal dynamics. Regions within lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) were examined that, in a prior study, exhibited contrasting temporal dynamics between older and younger adults during performance of the AX-CPT cognitive control task. The temporal dynamics in younger adults fit a proactive control pattern (primarily cue-based activation), whereas in older adults a reactive control pattern was found (primarily probe-based activation). In the current study, we found that following a period of task-strategy training, these older adults exhibited a proactive shift within a subset of the PFC regions, normalizing their activity dynamics toward young adult patterns. Conversely, under conditions of penalty-based monetary incentives, the younger adults exhibited a reactive shift some of the same regions, altering their temporal dynamics toward the older adult baseline pattern. These experimentally induced crossover patterns of temporal dynamics provide strong support for dual modes of cognitive control that can be flexibly shifted within PFC regions, via modulation of neural responses to changing task conditions or behavioral goals.
Project description:Sensory information from our eyes, skin and muscles helps guide and correct balance. Less appreciated, however, is that delays in the transmission of sensory information between our eyes, limbs and central nervous system can exceed several 10s of milliseconds. Investigating how these time-delayed sensory signals influence balance control is central to understanding the postural system. Here, we investigate how delayed visual feedback and cognitive performance influence postural control in healthy young and older adults. The task required that participants position their center of pressure (COP) in a fixed target as accurately as possible without visual feedback about their COP location (eyes-open balance), or with artificial time delays imposed on visual COP feedback. On selected trials, the participants also performed a silent arithmetic task (cognitive dual task). We separated COP time series into distinct frequency components using low and high-pass filtering routines. Visual feedback delays affected low frequency postural corrections in young and older adults, with larger increases in postural sway noted for the group of older adults. In comparison, cognitive performance reduced the variability of rapid center of pressure displacements in young adults, but did not alter postural sway in the group of older adults. Our results demonstrate that older adults prioritize vision to control posture. This visual reliance persists even when feedback about the task is delayed by several hundreds of milliseconds.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Multiple object tracking (MOT) is a powerful paradigm for measuring sustained attention. Although previous fMRI studies have delineated the brain activation patterns associated with tracking and documented reduced tracking performance in aging, age-related effects on brain activation during MOT have not been characterized. In particular, it is unclear if the task-related activation of different brain networks is correlated, and also if this coordination between activations within brain networks shows differential effects of age.<h4>Methods</h4>We obtained fMRI data during MOT at two load conditions from a group of younger (<i>n</i> = 25, mean age = 24.4 ± 5.1 years) and older (<i>n</i> = 21, mean age = 64.7 ± 7.4 years) healthy adults. Using a combination of voxel-wise and independent component analysis, we investigated age-related differences in the brain network activation. In order to explore to which degree activation of the various brain networks reflect unique and common mechanisms, we assessed the correlations between the brain networks' activations.<h4>Results</h4>Behavioral performance revealed an age-related reduction in MOT accuracy. Voxel and brain network level analyses converged on decreased load-dependent activations of the dorsal attention network (DAN) and decreased load-dependent deactivations of the default mode networks (DMN) in the old group. Lastly, we found stronger correlations in the task-related activations within DAN and within DMN components for younger adults, and stronger correlations between DAN and DMN components for older adults.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Using MOT as means for measuring attentional performance, we have demonstrated an age-related attentional decline. Network-level analysis revealed age-related alterations in network recruitment consisting of diminished activations of DAN and diminished deactivations of DMN in older relative to younger adults. We found stronger correlations within DMN and within DAN components for younger adults and stronger correlations between DAN and DMN components for older adults, indicating age-related alterations in the coordinated network-level activation during attentional processing.