Cognitive load affects lower limb force-time relations during voluntary rapid stepping in healthy old and young adults

Itshak Melzer, D. G. Liebermann, T. Krasovsky, Lars I.E. Oddsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Quick step execution may prevent falls when balance is lost; adding a concurrent task delays this function. We investigate whether push-off force-time relations during the execution of rapid voluntary stepping is affected by a secondary task in older and young adults. Methods Nineteen healthy older adults and 12 young adults performed rapid voluntary stepping under single-and dual-task conditions. Peak power, peak force, and time to peak force during preparatory and swing phases of stepping were extracted from center of pressure and ground reaction force data. Results For dual-task condition compared with single-task condition, older adults show a longer time to reach peak force during the preparation and swing phases compared with young adults (∼25% vs ∼10%, respectively). Peak power and peak force were not affected by a concurrent attention-demanding task. Conclusion Older adults have difficulty allocating sufficient attention for fast muscle recruitment when concurrently challenged by an attention-demanding task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-406
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume65 A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation (L.I.e.O., 2001-056) and a post-doctoral fellowship (I.M.) from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.


  • Aging
  • Balance
  • Dual task
  • Falls
  • Step response time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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