Effect of Task Difficulty on Dual-Task Performance using postural stability and cognition measures

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Nadji, Nassim
Coursen, Sarah M.
Amick, Ryan Zackary
Patterson, Jeremy A.

Nadji, Nassim; Coursen, Sarah M.; Amick, Ryan Zackary; Patterson, Jeremy A. 2014. Effect of Task Difficulty on Dual-Task Performance using postural stability and cognition measures. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 46:no. 5:pp 697-697:Supplement: 1 Meeting Abstract: 2562


Task performance decreases when people attempt to perform multiple task simultaneously. One technique that can be used to gain more information from primary task performance involves the manipulation of task difficulty.PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether task difficulty had an effect on dual-task performance.METHODS: 13 healthy college-aged individuals (3 female, 10 male; aged 25.9 ± 6.2 yrs) participated in this study. Each participant completed a familiarization, baseline, and two experimental trials. The dual-task assessment consisted of concurrently testing cognition using the Stroop color-word test while measuring balance for 30 seconds. After familiarization, baseline balance measures were recorded, including overall stability index (OSI), anterior-posterior index (API), and medial-lateral index (MLI). Subjects then performed two experimental trials where balance was assessed while performing the Stroop color-word test. The two trials were of increasing cognitive difficulty. Dual-task performance score (DtP) was calculated by dividing the cognition score produced by the Stroop test, by the stability index.RESULTS: Mean DtP scores are 29.17 (±15.51) and 23.97 (±19.81) for conditions A and B respectively. Paired sample t-test revealed no significant difference between the DtP scores of condition A and B (p>0.05). Mean OSI scores were 0.38 (±0.12) , 1.31 (±0.92) , and 1.38 (±0.78) for baseline, condition A, and condition B respectively. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the conditions from baseline as Stroop difficulty increased (p>0.05).CONCLUSION: Previous research has indicated reductions in task performance with increasing cognitive demands. While this study revealed no significant differences between the conditions, it is likely that this is a result of an underpowered design.

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