Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Using dual-task paradigms to detect motor learning effects in older adults after task-specific training: A feasibility study

Class

Article

Department

Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Faculty Mentor

Sydney Schaefer

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Background: Theories of motor learning predict that repetitive practice of a given task (i.e. task-specific training) reduces the amount of attention needed to complete that task, thereby improving the task's automaticity. Changes in automaticity can be measured experimentally under dual-task conditions where the motor task and a secondary task are performed concurrently. We have shown previously that dual-task paradigms are feasible for detecting motor learning effects in young and middle-aged adults, such that dual-task interference is lower after task-specific training compared to before. One's ability to dual task, however, tends to decline with advancing age, which may limit this approach's application to older populations. Objective: The purpose of this study was to test whether a dual-task paradigm was feasible for detecting motor learning in older adults. Methods: Fourteen older adults (age 77.8±4.9 years) without any confounding neuromuscular impairment were randomly assigned to a training or control group. The training group completed 150 trials (2,250 repetitions) of a simulated feeding task with their nondominant hand, whereas the control group did not. This training did not occur under dual-task conditions. Task performance (measured as trial time) was tested at pre- and post-test under dual-task conditions in which participants simultaneously performed an auditory discrimination task (measured as percent accuracy). Dual-task interference was defined as a decrement in motor or listening performance under such conditions, and we hypothesized that learning effects due to training (i.e. automaticity) would yield less interference at post-test compared to pre-test. Results: Preliminary data supported this hypothesis, with faster trial times and higher listening accuracy at post-test in the training group only; no changes occurred from pre- to post-test in the control group. Conclusions: These results suggest that dual-task paradigms may be useful in detecting motor learning in older adults.

Start Date

4-9-2015 1:30 PM

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Apr 9th, 1:30 PM

Using dual-task paradigms to detect motor learning effects in older adults after task-specific training: A feasibility study

Background: Theories of motor learning predict that repetitive practice of a given task (i.e. task-specific training) reduces the amount of attention needed to complete that task, thereby improving the task's automaticity. Changes in automaticity can be measured experimentally under dual-task conditions where the motor task and a secondary task are performed concurrently. We have shown previously that dual-task paradigms are feasible for detecting motor learning effects in young and middle-aged adults, such that dual-task interference is lower after task-specific training compared to before. One's ability to dual task, however, tends to decline with advancing age, which may limit this approach's application to older populations. Objective: The purpose of this study was to test whether a dual-task paradigm was feasible for detecting motor learning in older adults. Methods: Fourteen older adults (age 77.8±4.9 years) without any confounding neuromuscular impairment were randomly assigned to a training or control group. The training group completed 150 trials (2,250 repetitions) of a simulated feeding task with their nondominant hand, whereas the control group did not. This training did not occur under dual-task conditions. Task performance (measured as trial time) was tested at pre- and post-test under dual-task conditions in which participants simultaneously performed an auditory discrimination task (measured as percent accuracy). Dual-task interference was defined as a decrement in motor or listening performance under such conditions, and we hypothesized that learning effects due to training (i.e. automaticity) would yield less interference at post-test compared to pre-test. Results: Preliminary data supported this hypothesis, with faster trial times and higher listening accuracy at post-test in the training group only; no changes occurred from pre- to post-test in the control group. Conclusions: These results suggest that dual-task paradigms may be useful in detecting motor learning in older adults.