Research and clinical practice have focused on effects of a cognitive dual-task on highly automated motor tasks such as walking or maintaining balance. Despite potential importance for daily life performance, there are only a few small studies on dual-task effects on upper-limb motor control. We therefore developed a protocol for assessing cognitive-motor interference (CMI) during upper-limb motor control and used it to evaluate dual-task effects in 57 healthy individuals and two highly prevalent neurological disorders associated with deficits of cognitive and motor processing (57 patients with Parkinson's disease [PD], 57 stroke patients). Performance was evaluated in cognitive and motor domains under single- and dual-task conditions. Patterns of CMI were explored to evaluate overall attentional capacity and attention allocation. As expected, patients with neurological deficits showed different patterns of CMI compared to healthy individuals, depending on diagnosis (PD or stroke) and severity of cognitive and/or motor symptoms. Healthy individuals experienced CMI especially under challenging conditions of the motor task. CMI was greater in PD patients, presumably due to insufficient attentional capacity in relation to increased cognitive involvement in motor control. Although no general increase of CMI was observed in stroke patients, correlation analyses suggested that especially patients with severe motor dysfunction experienced CMI. Clinical ratings of cognitive and motor function were weakly associated with CMI, suggesting that CMI reflects a different construct than these unidimensional clinical tests. It remains to be investigated whether CMI is an indicator of difficulties with day-to-day activities.
Bank, P. J. M., Marinus, J., van Tol, R. M., Groeneveld, I. F., Goossens, P. H., de Groot, J. H., ... Meskers, C. G. M. (2018). Cognitive-motor interference during goal-directed upper-limb movements. European Journal of Neuroscience, 48(10), 3146-3158. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.14168