Working memory and postural control: adult age differences in potential for improvement, task priority, and dual tasking

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009 Mar;64(2):193-201. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbp009. Epub 2009 Mar 2.


We investigate dynamic posture control and working memory (NBack) retest practice in young and older adults, focusing on older adults' potential for improvement in the component tasks but more importantly in dual-task performance. Participants performed the 2 tasks in 11 sessions under single- and dual-task conditions. Posture improvement was observed with retest practice for both groups. Increase in cognitive load after initial practice led to greater dual-task costs in both tasks in older adults and higher costs in memory in young adults. With continued practice, costs were reduced by both groups; however, the 2 groups focused improvement on different tasks: Older adults focused on posture but young adults on cognition. These results emphasize older adults' potential for improvement in dual-task performance and their flexibility to utilize the practice gains in posture to optimize cognitive performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance*
  • Practice, Psychological