What is it about?

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy was used to evaluate prefrontal cortex activation differences between older adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy older adults (HOA) during the performance of a balance- and attention-demanding motor task. Ten older adults with MS and 12 HOA underwent functional near-infrared spectroscopy recording while talking, virtual beam walking, or virtual beam walking while talking on a self-paced treadmill. The MS group demonstrated smaller increases in prefrontal cortex oxygenation levels than HOA during virtual beam walking while talking than talking tasks.

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Why is it important?

The findings in this study indicate a decreased ability to allocate additional attentional resources in challenging walking conditions among MS compared with HOA. This study is the first to investigate brain activation dynamics during the performance of balance- and attention-demanding motor tasks in persons with MS.


This work furthers our understanding of cognitive control changes in persons with multiple sclerosis, and highlights the importance of monitoring brain activation during the actual performance of walking activities. Future work should focus on disassociating the effect of aging and multiple sclerosis disease progression on cortical control of gait.

Manuel Hernandez
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Brain Activation Changes During Balance- and Attention-Demanding Tasks in Middle- and Older-Aged Adults With Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Control, April 2019, Human Kinetics,
DOI: 10.1123/mc.2018-0044.
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