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Keywords:

  • dual-task;
  • executive functioning;
  • mild cognitive impairment;
  • reaction time

Aim:  The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between dual-task performance and neurocognitive measures in community-dwelling older people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods:  A total of 98 subjects (mean age 74.8 years, 52.0% female) participated in the study. We compared 36 participants with amnestic MCI (aMCI) with 62 participants with non-amnestic MCI (non-aMCI) on dual-task performance as measured by reaction time responses. The relationships between dual-task performance and multiple domains of neurocognitive functions, including general cognitive function, visual memory, working memory, executive function and processing speed, were examined.

Results:  Although there were no statistically significant group differences in simple reaction times (P = 0.734), the aMCI group showed significantly slower dual-task reaction times than the non-aMCI group (P = 0.012). Using multiple regression analysis, we found that there was a significant relationship between executive function and dual-task reaction times (β = 0.298, P = 0.006).

Conclusion:  These results showed that aMCI subjects showed a specific deficit in dual-task performance compared with non-aMCI subjects, and poor dual-task performance was associated with declines in executive function in older people with MCI. Future longitudinal and interventional studies should investigate the use of dual-task testing with varying levels of cognitive demand in older adults at risk of dementia. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2013; 13: 314–321.