Dual-Task Gait and Alzheimer's Disease Genetic Risk in Cognitively Normal Adults: A Pilot Study.
BACKGROUND: Dual-task paradigms, in which an individual performs tasks separately and then concurrently, often demonstrate that people with neurodegenerative disorders experience more dual-task interference, defined as worse performance in the dual-task condition compared to the single-task condition. OBJECTIVE: To examine how gait-cognition dual-task performance differs between cognitively normal older adults with and without an APOE ɛ4 allele. METHODS: Twenty-nine individuals ages 60 to 72 with normal cognition completed a dual-task protocol in which walking and cognitive tasks (executive function, memory) were performed separately and concurrently. Fourteen participants carried APOE ɛ4 alleles (ɛ3/ɛ4 or ɛ2/ɛ4); fifteen had APOE genotypes (ɛ2/ɛ2, ɛ2/ɛ3, or ɛ3/ɛ3) associated with lower risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). RESULTS: The two risk groups did not differ by age, sex, race, education, or gait or cognitive measures under single-task conditions. Compared to low risk participants, APOE ɛ4 carriers tended to exhibit greater dual-task interference. Both the memory and executive function tasks resulted in dual-task interference on gait, but effect sizes for a group difference were larger when the cognitive task was executive function. In the dual-task protocol that combined walking and the executive function task, effect sizes for group difference in gait interference were larger (0.62- 0.70) than for cognitive interference (0.45- 0.47). DISCUSSION: Dual-task paradigms may reveal subtle changes in brain function in asymptomatic individuals at heightened risk of AD.
Whitson, HE; Potter, GG; Feld, JA; Plassman, BL; Reynolds, K; Sloane, R; Welsh-Bohmer, KA
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