Changes in Predictive Task Switching with Age and with Cognitive Load.

Predictive control of movement is more efficient than feedback-based control, and is an important skill in everyday life. The authors tested whether the ability to predictively control movements of the upper arm is affected by age and by cognitive load.

A total of 63 participants were tested in two experiments. In both experiments participants were seated, and controlled a cursor on a computer screen by flexing and extending their dominant arm. In Experiment 1, 20 young adults and 20 older adults were asked to continuously change the frequency of their horizontal arm movements, with the goal of inducing an abrupt switch between discrete movements (at low frequencies) and rhythmic movements (at high frequencies). They tested whether that change was performed based on a feed-forward (predictive) or on a feedback (reactive) control.

In Experiment 2, 23 young adults performed the same task, while being exposed to a cognitive load half of the time via a serial subtraction task. We found that both aging and cognitive load diminished, on average, the ability of participants to predictively control their movements. Five older adults and one young adult under a cognitive load were not able to perform the switch between rhythmic and discrete movement (or vice versa).

In Experiment 1, 40% of the older participants were able to predictively control their movements, compared with 70% in the young group. In Experiment 2, 48% of the participants were able to predictively control their movements with a cognitively loading task, compared with 70% in the no-load condition. The ability to predictively change a motor plan in anticipation of upcoming changes may be an important component in performing everyday functions, such as safe driving and avoiding falls.

neurological rehabilitation for physiotherapy and physical therapy

Introduction to Neurology

Treating those with neurological impairments can seem complex and overwhelming at times. Get to grips with the basics and build strong foundations with the online introduction to neurology course.


December 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will often come
back very soon. This is an informative blog, I would like to suggest everyone here read this blog. Thanks for sharing this valuable post. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

Scott Buxton
Scott Buxton
December 23, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Thank you very much Joy. 🙂 You too.

Speak your mind

Your email will not be published.