A narrative review of texting as a visually-dependent cognitive-motor secondary task during locomotion

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Typing while walking is an example of people's ability to interact with technology while engaged in real life activities. Indeed, an increasing number of studies have investigated the typing of text messages (texting) as a dual task during locomotion. The objective of this review is to (1) describe the task requirements of texting-while-walking, (2) evaluate the measurement and psychometric properties of texting as a dual task, and (3) formulate methodological recommendations for researchers who use and report on texting-while-walking. Twenty studies which used texting as a dual task during gait were identified via a literature search. The majority of these studies examined texting among young healthy adults and showed that, like other dual tasks, texting-while-walking caused decrements in both gait and texting performance. The cause of these decrements was most likely related to increased visual task requirements, task-dependent cognitive requirements and fine motor skills. Texting-while-walking gait measures were repeatable, but texting performance showed poor reliability which further depended on skill. Preliminary results show that texting-while-walking performance may discriminate between populations (e.g., young vs. older adults) but no studies have yet examined its predictive validity (e.g., for fall risk). In conclusion, texting-while-walking is an ecologically-valid dual task for locomotion which has become much more commonly used in recent years. As opposed to other secondary tasks such as subtraction by 7 or generating words, texting may challenge various cognitive, visual and sensorimotor domains depending on its content. This imposes task-specific methodological challenges on future research, which are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-362
Number of pages9
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Haifa and by the Learning in a Networked Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cognitive
  • Gait speed
  • Interference
  • Mobile phone
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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