Influence of concurrent tasks on gait: a dual-task approach

Percept Mot Skills. 1995 Aug;81(1):107-13. doi: 10.2466/pms.1995.81.1.107.


We studied the effect of concurrent tasks on motor control of gait with dual-task methodology. Ten healthy subjects were instructed to perform different cognitive and motor tasks during gait on a conductive walkway. Footswitch signals were recorded and stride time and double-support time were calculated. It was assumed that the former reflects gait-patterning mechanisms and the latter relates to balance control. Statistical analysis showed an increase in double-support time when a memory-retention task (digit-span) and a fine motor task (buttoning) were executed simultaneously during gait. During gait performance of the cognitive task declined compared to baseline conditions. Attentional demand of concurrent cognitive and motor tasks appeared to force subjects to modulate their gait strategy to ensure control of balance. Stride time was consistent across task conditions except when subjects performed fast finger-tapping during gait. Then all but one subject showed a decrease in stride time and an increase in stride-frequency that was repeatable on retest. Since different rhythmic movements are likely to share common neurobiological networks, we assumed that the modulation of stride-frequency was due to structural interference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Postural Balance*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Serial Learning