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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 131608, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/131608
Review Article

Age-Related Deficits of Dual-Task Walking: A Review

Institute of Physiology and Anatomy, German Sport University, Am Sportpark Müngersdorf 6, 50933 Cologne, Germany

Received 28 February 2012; Revised 8 May 2012; Accepted 27 May 2012

Academic Editor: Jennifer L. Bizon

Copyright © 2012 Rainer Beurskens and Otmar Bock. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This review summarizes our present knowledge about elderly people's problems with walking. We highlight the plastic changes in the brain that allow a partial compensation of these age-related deficits and discuss the associated costs and limitations. Experimental evidence for the crucial role of executive functions and working memory is presented, leading us to the hypothesis that it is difficult for seniors to coordinate two streams of visual information, one related to navigation through visually defined space, and the other to a visually demanding second task. This hypothesis predicts that interventions aimed at the efficiency of visuovisual coordination in the elderly will ameliorate their deficits in dual-task walking.