Increased Cognitive Load Leads to Impaired Mobility Decisions in Seniors at Risk for Falls

Lindsay S. Nagamatsu, Michelle Voss, Mark B. Neider, John G. Gaspar, Todd C. Handy, Arthur F. Kramer, Teresa Y.L. Liu-Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Successful mobility requires appropriate decision-making. Seniors with reduced executive functioning-such as senior fallers-may be prone to poor mobility judgments, especially under dual-task conditions. We classified participants as "At-Risk" and "Not-At-Risk" for falls using a validated physiological falls-risk assessment. Dual-task performance was assessed in a virtual reality environment where participants crossed a simulated street by walking on a manual treadmill while listening to music or conversing on a phone. Those "At-Risk" experienced more collisions with oncoming cars and had longer crossing times in the Phone condition compared to controls. We conclude that poor mobility judgments during a dual-task leads to unsafe mobility for those at-risk for falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognitive load
  • Dual-task
  • Falls risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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