Age-related changes in the performance of balance tasks requiring inhibitory control

Publication: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution - Published abstract for conference with selection processResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIM: Age-related changes in executive functions affect behaviour of older persons and contribute to an overall decrease in functioning, which ultimately lead to mobility Back to the contents page limitations and an increased fall risk. Inhibitory control (IC) is one of the main components of executive functions that enables a person to suppress irrelevant information or incorrect motor actions to successfully achieve goal-directed behaviour. Recent studies in older persons show an association of reduced IC with impaired gait adaptability and an increased risk of falls. However, it is not clear how impaired IC affects tasks which integrate balance and IC. This study aims to determine the impact of IC on performance of tasks which require balance control and compare performance of young (YA) and old (OA) adults. METHODS: Two types of balance tasks, i.e. step- or gait-initiation in response to visual stimuli, were designed to
assess performance of YA and OA in conditions which respectively required perceptual or motor inhibition. During tasks requiring perceptual inhibition, subjects (in total n = 66) performed three stepping tasks. Each of these tasks included 20 congruent and 20 incongruent trials. During the task requiring motor inhibition, subjects (in total n = 68) needed to initiate gait (Go) and, if needed, immediately stop gait initiation (Stop). The gait initiation task comprised 3 blocks, each consisting of 9 Go and 3 Stop trials. Data analyses of the tasks
comprised changes in centre of pressure (CoP) position and foot movements (as measured by a Bertec force plate (1000 Hz) and a Qualisys motion capture system (100 Hz)). Performance of the tasks were analysed in association with the outcomes of a selection of standardised cognitive and motor tests. RESULTS: Both types of balance tasks show that inhibitory control
affected task performance in YA as well as in OA. Results in OA show a task dependent prolonged duration of CoP and step onsets during step initiation tasks that require perceptual inhibitory control, and less success in blocking gait initiation compared to YA. Outstanding analyses will focus on the associations of balance performance with standardised cognitive and motor tests. CONCLUSIONS: This study presents outcomes of two novel tasks that assess performance of balance tasks integrating balance and inhibitory control. Results show that inhibitory control affects the performance of step- and gait-initiation in YA as well as in OA, but has more impact in the OA. Further analyses of our results may help to increase our understanding of the impact of age-related changes in inhibitory control on motor performance and give input into the development and evaluation of new interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationABSTRACT BOOK ISPGR 2023 WORLD CONGRESS
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
Publication date07.2023
Article numberP2-B-4
ISBN (Electronic)2817-5042
Publication statusPublished - 07.2023
EventISPGR World Congress 2023 - Brisbane Convention Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 09.07.202313.07.2023


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