Cognitive motor interference while walking: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):715-28. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.08.008. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Dual-task methodology has been increasingly used to assess cognitive motor interference while walking. However, whether the observed dual-task-related gait changes are systematically related to methodological variations remains unclear and researchers still lack knowledge of what cognitive task to use in different groups for clinical purposes or for research. We systematically reviewed experimental studies that measured gait performance with and without performing concurrent cognitive task. Our results suggest that cognitive tasks that involve internal interfering factors seem to disturb gait performance more than those involving external interfering factors. Meta-analysis results show that the overall effect of different cognitive tasks was prominent in gait speed. In healthy participants, meta-regression analysis suggests strong associations between age and speed reduction under dual-task conditions and between the level of cognitive state and speed reduction under dual-task conditions. Standardizing research methodologies, as well as improving their ecological validity, enables better understanding of dual-task-related gait changes in different populations and improves, in turn, our understanding of neural mechanisms and gait control in general in content.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Walking / physiology*