Effects of fixed versus variable task prioritization during short-term dual task practice on motor and cognitive task performance in young adults

Objective: It has been shown that variable compared to fixed task prioritization during dual task practice more effectively improves motor (i.e., postural control) and cognitive (i.e., memory) performance in older adults. However, it is unclear whether this finding is also valid in young adults. Thus, the present study examined the effect of fixed (allocate equal priority on both tasks) versus variable (vary priority between both tasks) priority during short-term motor-cognitive dual task practice on single and dual task performance in healthy young adults (age range: 20-30 years).

Results: During two days of practice, significant improvements of motor (i.e., balance task: reduced root mean square error; p < 001, ηp2 = .72) and cognitive (i.e., arithmetic task: increased serial three subtractions; p < .001, ηp2 = .78) task performance were observed and that was irrespective of group ("fixed priority" and "variable priority"). Further, the statistical analysis of post-practice single and dual task performance revealed no significant differences between groups, irrespective of task (i.e., motor or cognitive). This indicates that in young as opposed to old adults, single and dual task performance improvements are independent of task prioritization (i.e., fixed or variable priority) during short-term motor-cognitive dual task practice.


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