Osofundiya, Olufunmilola Aduke (2015-05). The Impact of Obesity on Walking and Dual-Task Situations in Older Adults: A Prefrontal fNIRS Study. Master's Thesis. | Thesis individual record

Recent evidence of obesity-related changes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during cognitive and seated motor activities have surfaced; however, the impact of obesity on PFC regulation during ambulation remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine obesity-specific differences in prefrontal cortex activation using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) during single- and dual-task walking situations in older adults. Ten non-obese and ten obese individuals, 65 years and older, performed single (walking) tasks and dual (walking with: verbal, motor, precision gait, and decision-making) tasks. Maximum oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO2) was measured bilaterally using a portable fNIRS system. Gait speed and performance on the dual tasks were also obtained.

Dual-task conditions, namely precision gait and decision-making tasks, were associated with greater PFC activity compared to the single-task condition (both P < 0.0001) despite the precision gait task being associated with slower gait speeds (P = 0.0001). Obesity was marginally associated with greater activation in the PFC during the single- and dual-task conditions (P = 0.057) despite both obesity groups having comparable gait speeds (P = 0.229) and performances in the secondary tasks (all P > 0.232). The study is one of the first to examine the dependence of gait on PFC function in non-obese and obese older adults during walking and dual-tasks using fNIRS. These preliminary findings have strong public health implications in identifying individuals who are at greater risks of falls, particularly when performing complex mobility tasks.

etd chair
publication date