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Brain Behav. 2019 Aug;9(8):e01349. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1349. Epub 2019 Jul 2.

Brain activity associated with Dual-task performance of Ankle motor control during cognitive challenge.

Author information

1
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
2
Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
3
School of Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
4
Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
5
Faculty of Applied Science, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Skilled Ankle motor control is frequently required while performing secondary cognitively demanding tasks such as socializing and avoiding obstacles while walking, termed "Dual tasking." It is likely that Dual-task performance increases demand on the brain, as both motor and cognitive systems require neural resources. The purpose of this study was to use functional MRI to understand which brain regions are involved in resolving Dual-task interference created by requiring high levels of Ankle motor control during a cognitive task.

METHODS:

Using functional MRI, brain activity was measured in sixteen young adults during performance of visually cued Ankle plantar flexion to a target (Ankle task), a cognitive task (Flanker task), and both tasks simultaneously (Dual task).

RESULTS:

Dual-task performance did not impact the Ankle task (p = 0.78), but did affect behavior on the Flanker task. Response times for both the congruent and incongruent conditions during the Flanker task were significantly longer (p < 0.001, p = 0.050, respectively), and accuracy for the congruent condition decreased during Dual tasking (p < 0.001). Activity in 3 brain regions was associated with Dual-task Flanker performance. Percent signal change from baseline in Brodmann area (BA) 5, BA6, and the left caudate correlated with performance on the Flanker task during the Dual-task condition (R2  = 0.261, p = 0.04; R2 = -0.258, p = 0.04; R2  = 0.303, p = 0.03, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

Performance of Ankle motor control may be prioritized over a cognitive task during Dual-task performance. Our work advances Dual-task research by elucidating patterns of whole brain activity for Dual tasks that require Ankle motor control during a cognitive task.

KEYWORDS:

Flanker; attention; brain; cognition; cognitive-motor Dual tasking; fMRI; somatosensory

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