Previous studies suggested that age-related deficits of walking are accentuated under dual-task conditions when the non-walking task is visually demanding. Here we evaluate whether a requirement for manual skills is critical as well. Young (22±2 years) and older (69±3 years) subjects walked along a straight path while performing a task that required manual skills but no visual processing, i.e., checking off boxes on a handheld panel without seeing the arm, or a task that required visual processing but no manual skill , i.e., a Stroop-like task with verbal responses. We found that the checking task affected the performance of young and elderly subjects to a similar degree, while the Stroop-like task affected seniors’ performance more than that of young subjects. This outcome confirms the role of visual demand for age-related deficits of dual-task walking (in the Stroop-like task), but doesn’t support a similar role for manual skills (in the checking task).
aging, locomotion, attention, executive functions, fall prevention