Effect of Heart Rate Reserve on Prefrontal Cortical Activation While Dual-Task Walking in Older Adults

Alka Bishnoi, Gioella N. Chaparro, Manuel E. Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypertension is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular health and non-amnestic cognitive impairment in older adults. While heart rate reserve (HRR) has been shown to be a risk factor for hypertension, how impaired HRR in older adults can lead to cognitive impairment is still unclear. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of HRR on prefrontal cortical (PFC) activation under varying dual-task demands in older adults. Twenty-eight older adults (50–82 years of age) were included in this study and divided into higher (n = 14) and lower (n = 14) HRR groups. Participants engaged in the cognitive task which was the Modified Stroop Color Word Test (MSCWT) on a self-paced treadmill while walking. Participants with higher HRR demonstrated increased PFC activation in comparison to lower HRR, even after controlling for covariates in analysis. Furthermore, as cognitive task difficulty increased (from neutral to congruent to incongruent to switching), PFC activation increased. In addition, there was a significant interaction between tasks and HRR group, with older adults with higher HRR demonstrating increases in PFC activation, faster gait speed, and increased accuracy, relative to those with lower HRR, when going from neutral to switching tasks. These results provide evidence of a relationship between HRR and prefrontal cortical activation and cognitive and physical performance, suggesting that HRR may serve as a biomarker for cognitive health of an older adult with or without cardiovascular risk.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Cognition
  • Gait
  • Neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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