The aged brain may not make good use of central resources, so dual task performance may be degraded. From the brain connectome perspective, this study investigated dual task deficits of older adults that lead to task failure of a suprapostural motor task with increasing postural destabilization. Twelve younger (mean age: 25.3 years) and 12 older (mean age: 65.8 years) adults executed a designated force-matching task from a level-surface or a stabilometer board. Force-matching error, stance sway, and event-related potential (ERP) in the preparatory period were measured. The force-matching accuracy and the size of postural sway of the older adults tended to be more vulnerable to stance configuration than that of the young adults, although both groups consistently showed greater attentional investment on the postural task as sway regularity increased in the stabilometer condition. In terms of the synchronization likelihood (SL) of the ERP, both younger and older adults had net increases in the strengths of the functional connectivity in the whole brain and in the fronto-sensorimotor network in the stabilometer condition. Also, the SL in the fronto-sensorimotor network of the older adults was greater than that of the young adults for both stance conditions. However, unlike the young adults, the older adults did not exhibit concurrent deactivation of the functional connectivity of the left temporal-parietal-occipital network for postural-suprapostural task with increasing postural load. In addition, the older adults potentiated functional connectivity of the right prefrontal area to cope with concurrent force-matching with increasing postural load. In conclusion, despite a universal negative effect on brain volume conduction, our preliminary results showed that the older adults were still capable of increasing allocation of neural sources, particularly via compensatory recruitment of the right prefrontal loop, for concurrent force-matching under the challenging postural condition. Nevertheless, dual-task performance of the older adults tended to be more vulnerable to postural load than that of the younger adults, in relation to inferior neural economy or a slow adaptation process to stance destabilization for scant dissociation of control hubs in the temporal-parietal-occipital cortex.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience