Differences in dual-task performance and prefrontal cortex activation between younger and older adults

Hironori Ohsugi, Shohei Ohgi, Kenta Shigemori, Eric B. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to examine task-related changes in prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity during a dual-task in both healthy young and older adults and compare patterns of activation between the age groups. We also sought to determine whether brain activation during a dual-task relates to executive/attentional function and how measured factors associated with both of these functions vary between older and younger adults.Results: Thirty-five healthy volunteers (20 young and 15 elderly) participated in this study. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was employed to measure PFC activation during a single-task (performing calculations or stepping) and dual-task (performing both single-tasks at once). Cognitive function was assessed in the older patients with the Trail-making test part B (TMT-B). Major outcomes were task performance, brain activation during task (oxygenated haemoglobin: Oxy-Hb) measured by NIRS, and TMT-B score. Mixed ANOVAs were used to compare task factors and age groups in task performance. Mixed ANOVAs also compared task factors, age group and time factors in task-induced changes in measured Oxy-Hb. Among the older participants, correlations between the TMT-B score and Oxy-Hb values measured in each single-task and in the dual-task were examined using a Pearson correlation coefficient.Oxy-Hb values were significantly increased in both the calculation task and the dual-task within patients in both age groups. However, the Oxy-Hb values associated with there were higher in the older group during the post-task period for the dual-task. Also, there were significant negative correlations between both task-performance accuracy and Oxy-Hb values during the dual-task and participant TMT-B scores.Conclusions: Older adults demonstrated age-specific PFC activation in response to dual-task challenge. There was also a significant negative correlation between PFC activation during dual-task and executive/attentional function. These findings suggest that the high cognitive load induced by dual-task activity generates increased PFC activity in older adults. However, this relationship appeared to be strongest in participants with better baseline attention and executive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 18 2013

Keywords

  • Attentional function
  • Dual-task
  • Executive function
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)

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