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Gait Posture. 2001 Oct;14(2):110-6.

Influence of a visuo-spatial, verbal and central executive working memory task on postural control.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ont., N2L 3G1, Canada.


In this study, participants were required to perform different working memory (WM) tasks (a verbal task, a visuo-spatial task with two levels of difficulty and a central executive task) under different challenges to postural control (sitting, shoulder width stance and tandem stance). When a WM task was added, changes in postural sway were characterized by an increase in frequency and decrease in amplitude of sway indicating a tighter control. We found no changes in postural control between the different types of WM tasks, which might support a general capacity limitation hypothesis. However, no changes were found in performance of the WM when postural stance was modified and no changes were found in postural sway, when the difficulty level of the visuo-spatial task was modified. Consequently, the results seem to indicate that the addition of a WM task, regardless of task type or task difficulty, forces the central nervous system to choose a tighter control strategy.

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