Cortical activity modulations underlying age-related performance differences during posture–cognition dual tasking

Recep A. Ozdemir, Jose L. Contreras-Vidal, Beom Chan Lee, William H. Paloski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


To date, no systematic research investigating cortical correlates of performance changes in dual tasking has been reported in the elderly population. Thus, we monitored whole-scalp cortical activations (EEG) during both single task and posture–cognition dual tasking with the main goal of understanding cortical activity modulations underlying age-related differences on posture–cognition dual tasking conditions. Postural and cognitive data analyses showed that elderly people had decreased cognitive performance even during challenging single cognitive tasks. Working memory impairments in the elderly group can be observed when a challenging cognitive task is performed in any postural condition, while postural control performance differences only became significant during challenging dual task conditions. Behavioral performance results, in general, indicate that elderly subjects may adopt a non-automated conscious control strategy and prioritize postural performance over cognitive performance to maintain upright stance only when the cognitive load is low. EEG analyses showed increased delta, theta and gamma oscillations, primarily over frontal, central-frontal, central and central-parietal cortices during dual tasking conditions. We found that delta oscillations were more responsive to challenging postural conditions presumably related to cortical representations of changing sensory conditions in postural tasks. Theta rhythms, on the other hand, were more responsive to cognitive task difficulty in both groups, with more pronounced increases in younger subjects which may underlie neural correlates of high-level cognitive computations including encoding and retrieval. Gamma oscillations also increased in the elderly primarily over central and central-parietal cortices during challenging postural tasks, indicating increased allocation of attentional sources to postural tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3321-3334
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Dual task
  • EEG
  • Postural control
  • Time–frequency analyses
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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