Maintaining gait performance by cortical activation during dual-task interference: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study

Chia-Feng Lu, Yan-ci Liu, Yea-Ru Yang, Yu Te Wu, Ray-Yau Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


In daily life, mobility requires walking while performing a cognitive or upper-extremity motor task. Although previous studies have evaluated the effects of dual tasks on gait performance, few studies have evaluated cortical activation and its association with gait disturbance during dual tasks. In this study, we simultaneously assessed gait performance and cerebral oxygenation in the bilateral prefrontal cortices (PFC), premotor cortices (PMC), and supplemental motor areas (SMA), using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, in 17 young adults performing dual tasks. Each participant was evaluated while performing normal- pace walking (NW), walking while performing a cognitive task (WCT), and walking while performing a motor task (WMT). Our results indicated that the left PFC exhibited the strongest and most sustained activation during WCT, and that NW andWMT were associated with minor increases in oxygenation levels during their initial phases. We observed increased activation in channels in the SMA and PMC during WCT and WMT. Gait data indicated that WCT and WMT both caused reductions in walking speed, but these reductions resulted from differing alterations in gait properties. WCT was associated with significant changes in cadence, stride time, and stride length, whereas WMT was associated with reductions in stride length only. During dual-task activities, increased activation of the PMC and SMA correlated with declines in gait performance, indicating a control mechanism for maintaining gait performance during dual tasks. Thus, the regulatory effects of cortical activation on gait behavior enable a second task to be performed while walking. © 2015 Lu et al.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • adult
  • Article
  • cognition
  • controlled study
  • dual-task performance (test)
  • female
  • functional near infrared spectroscopy
  • gait
  • human
  • human experiment
  • male
  • near infrared imaging system
  • near infrared spectroscopy
  • normal human
  • oxygenation
  • prefrontal cortex
  • premotor cortex
  • psychomotor performance
  • supplementary motor area
  • walking speed
  • young adult


Dive into the research topics of 'Maintaining gait performance by cortical activation during dual-task interference: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this