The role of executive function and attention in gait

Authors

  • Galit Yogev-Seligmann MscPT,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Department of Neurology, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
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  • Jeffrey M. Hausdorff PhD,

    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Department of Neurology, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    3. Division on Aging, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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  • Nir Giladi MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Movement Disorders Unit, Department of Neurology, Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    2. Department of Physical Therapy, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    3. Department of Neurology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
    • Movement Disorders Unit, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizman Street, Tel Aviv 64239, Israel
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Abstract

Until recently, gait was generally viewed as a largely automated motor task, requiring minimal higher-level cognitive input. Increasing evidence, however, links alterations in executive function and attention to gait disturbances. This review discusses the role of executive function and attention in healthy walking and gait disorders while summarizing the relevant, recent literature. We describe the variety of gait disorders that may be associated with different aspects of executive function, and discuss the changes occurring in executive function as a result of aging and disease as well the potential impact of these changes on gait. The attentional demands of gait are often tested using dual tasking methodologies. Relevant studies in healthy adults and patients are presented, as are the possible mechanisms responsible for the deterioration of gait during dual tasking. Lastly, we suggest how assessments of executive function and attention could be applied in the clinical setting as part of the process of identifying and understanding gait disorders and fall risk. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society

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